I?ll admit it: I?ve never been much of an NFL fan. ?My wife, however, is a huge Dolphins fan. ?So today we bit the bullet and bought DirecTV?s NFL Sunday Ticket and watched us some football. ?In the game between San Francisco and Green Bay, David Akers, with 2 seconds left in the first half, nailed a 63-yard field goal, which tied him with the longest successful field goal in NFL history. ?It was an awesome play to watch…so good it seemed right out of a movie script. ?The football bounced off the crossbar and then went through the goalposts. ?The team took a chance on a play that didn?t have much of a chance. ?But this time, it paid off.

Taking Chances is Par For the Course
I have learned that in business, you need to take chances, even in spite of the doubters. ?Otherwise, you will never get anywhere. ?In my case, as an example, I took a huge chance with building our electronic chain of custody software — ezCoC — a product that no one asked for. ?When I talked to people about it, the typical reaction was ?…that sounds kind of neat. ?Good luck with that.? ?Or ?…no one will use it because of the legal ramifications of e-signatures and paper trails.? ?Suffice it to say that most people were not big fans of the idea and thought it was a huge uphill battle that I?d never win.

But I built it anyway. ?And yes, it has been an uphill battle. ?Changing user behaviors is a bitch and not for the faint of heart. ?It takes a lot of effort to ignore the skeptics and to keep moving forward. ?But it can be done. ?There?s no question in my gut that the future — the very NEAR future — will use smartphones and web browsers to fill out chain of custody forms and connect field and sampling technicians to environmental labs. ?The future is NOT more of the same: paper.

I?ve taken a chance that, after nearly three years of solid work, has yet to pay off. ?Unlike David Akers in today?s football game, I have not kicked the ball through the goalposts yet. ?I?ve missed the shots taken so far. ?But I?m getting closer, and I will make that shot one day soon. ?I can taste it. ?How do I know this? ?People are starting to notice and agree with me about the role of smartphones within the environmental industry. ?I get fewer skeptics commenting to me about why it won?t work and more comments about why it will. ?People in positions of authority, such as the EPA, LIMS providers, environmental database management companies, and large environmental labs are taking notice and reaching out, instead of the other way around. ?And one day, sooner than later, people will comment about how bassackward it was to fill out paper chain of custody forms and then manually transpose them into the LIMS. ?It?s inevitable. ?And I?m in a pretty good position now to realize that payoff that is just around the corner.

Do It
Take that chance, despite the odds and the odd looks. ?Build that website or app. ?Kick that ball. ?Maybe the ball won?t go through the goalposts on your first shot. ?Maybe not even on the second, third, or fourth shots. ?But as long as you learn from each shot, practice, react, and continuously iterate and improve, eventually you will. ?It?s your opportunity.

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