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Leadership Thought #331 – You Make Your Own Luck

April 4, 2012


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It always bothers me when someone complains about another person’s good fortune by saying they were just lucky.  Sure, some people get lucky but pure luck is much rarer than you think.  Very few people ever win the lottery.  Even those that do win big usually play the game for many years before striking it rich.  Of course, some people do start out with more advantages than others do, but as someone who knows a few people born into wealthy families, this advantage comes fraught with its own distinct set of problems.  Resenting the success of others is a waste of time and energy.  It is also an unattractive character flaw.

The reality is that successful people often put themselves in a position to be lucky.  You don’t see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.  In addition, all people have ups and downs.  Very few of us have a life curve that is only upward sloping.  The difference is that “lucky” people just do not let their periods of adversity define them in unhelpful ways.  They just keep plugging away, learning from their mistakes, continuing to believe in themselves, and taking calculated risks anyway.   Their worldview is usually a positive optimistic one.  Where others see obstacles to success, they see opportunity.

It also helps greatly if you have a genuine passion for what you are doing.  The people that care the most generally do better than their counterparts do.  Moreover, you need to have the physical, emotional, and mental capacity to do what is needed.

I love music but my attempts at musicianship have been stunted by a lack of natural ability.  No matter how hard I work at it I will only ever get so far.  I also won’t be a Grand Master in chess, author the next great American novel, or pitch in major league baseball.  The good news is that I can still be a fan of people who are exceptional at all these things.  We all have a pathway to happiness and success and the key is never stopping looking until you find it.

There are moments in everyone’s life where we must decide how badly we want something and what we are willing to do to get it.  I hope that this motivation is driven by worthwhile pursuits that build rather than diminish your character.   You will find out what you are made of and how far you are willing to go to achieve your objective.  As with everything in your adult life, you will set the boundaries of acceptable behavior.  I hope that you choose wisely.  You will never find the light by choosing the path of darkness.

Positive life changing goals are worth extraordinary effort.  When Malcolm Gladwell produced his 10,000-hour theory required to achieve excellence at anything it resonated with me right away.  Even The Beatles had to tour tirelessly for years before they broke through on the music scene.  They made their own luck.  I’ve heard quite a few speakers over the years talk about how success happens when skill and effort meet timing and opportunity – I completely agree.  Instead of being a victim and resenting the good fortune of others, I encourage you to go out and work tirelessly at making your own luck.