One day, someone asked Lane why he seemed to excel at his engineering work. Lane smiled. “Years ago, my father taught me a simple but important lesson.”

Lane told how he had worked hard going through college. High school hadn’t been easy for him, and at seventeen, he had married right after graduation. It wasn’t long before he and his wife had a little one come along. Lane worked hard to take care of his family. But with only a high school education, the jobs he found paid minimum wage, if he could find a job at all.

After being the first one let go when a business he worked for started downsizing, he was upset and discouraged. He had worked hard and put his heart and soul into his job. But his sweet wife didn’t look at it as a bad thing. She looked at it positively, saying that now he would be free to go to school.

He had been wanting to get some education, but the thought of going to college while having a family to take care of was daunting. But his wife had great faith in him, and her faith became the strength he needed to make it through. She supported him in every way she could, and the day finally came when he graduated with a degree in engineering. He hadn’t started out in that area, but his interests helped him move in that direction. It was demanding work, but now he hoped it would pay off.

It wasn’t long before he got a job at a prestigious computer company. He moved his little family and started his new job. He was assigned to work with an older, more experienced engineer. But Lane found things weren’t quite what he had hoped. The older man worked part of the morning but then disappeared for the rest of the day.

Instead of having the older worker there as a mentor, Lane had to find out what he needed to know on his own. This meant he was reaching out to others, studying the company manual, and doing whatever else he could to perform better in his job.

At the end of the year, when Lane went in for his performance review, he received outstanding marks and got an advancement. But it was much smaller than Lane had hoped, smaller than others in his same situation. It didn’t take Lane long to realize it was because the other new employees, working with their assigned mentor and colleague, had gotten more work done. It was evident to Lane why. They had two of them working together, and most of the time, it was just him.

He was pleased that he had gotten as much done as he had. Even so, he couldn’t help but feel cheated. If the man that was assigned to work with him had gotten in and worked, together they could have been incredibly productive. That is when Lane complained to his father. What his father said to him made him think.

Lane’s entire attitude changed after that. Instead of complaining about not having someone to work with, he looked at the advantages. He was freer to decide about his project and do it the way he felt was best. In finding answers to questions on his own, he found he was getting to know more people across the organization and understood how things worked better than he would have otherwise. He used these advantages in his favor, and his work was far more innovative.

This didn’t go unnoticed by his boss. Unknown to Lane, his boss was also aware that Lane’s mentor was not doing his job. This all came out in his second-year review. When his boss asked him how he was able to do so well on his own, Lane shared what his father had told him.

“If a person has time to worry about what someone else is doing or not doing, he doesn’t have enough to do. And there is no challenge a person is given that doesn’t have hidden opportunities if a person will look for them as he gets in and works.”

Lane always excelled by keeping those ideas in mind.