May 272017

How To Get Lucky In Business And In Life

Do you know many people who you’d consider to be lucky in business? In life? Would you consider yourself a lucky person?

What is luck anyway? The first definition of luck in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:

A force that brings good fortune or adversity. For example, luck was a big factor in the outcome.

If you look back at the best things that have happened to you in your business and your life, how important was luck in the outcome?

When I think back on the best things that have happened to me in my business and my life, it was always one part luck and one part (at least) my initiative.

For example, when I applied to college, I was lucky enough to be awarded several scholarships that led me on a different path in life than I otherwise would have taken. I was lucky in that regard (I say “lucky” because I was a mediocre student in high school), but had I not applied to the particular college I ended up attending, luck would not have had a chance to intervene with the scholarship awards I mentioned.

In business, a particular deal where I received a sizable fee was one that we stumbled upon in a conversation with a prospective client in a completely different market! So, luck was involved, but had we not taken the initiative to meet with this prospective client, and perhaps more importantly, had we not recognized the potential of this other deal and pursued it, we would not have received the large success fee we received.

I could go through many more situations where I’ve been lucky in life, but rather than bore you with those, I will cut to the chase of what I’ve learned about luck based on those experiences and the experiences of people around me. Getting lucky in business and in life usually involves the following key elements:

  • You have to be “in the game” to get lucky. It always amazes me the people who sit on their couches complaining about how this or that person is so lucky. If they took just one second to think, they’d realize that the only reason so and so has a chance to be lucky is that they’re out there playing the game. So, if you want luck to intervene on your behalf, find a way to get into the game.
  • You must be open-minded. As I mentioned above, sometimes a big opportunity may be staring you in the face, but you don’t recognize it because you’ve developed tunnel vision. I’m not saying to not be focused and to chase every shiny object that comes your way! But I am saying that you have to keep your eyes open for opportunity. Develop goals and stay focused on your goals, but also be willing to consider opportunities as they come up. Most of them you will turn down, but sometimes when luck intervenes, you’ll realize that there are opportunities outside your current goals that are worth pursuing further.
  • You must develop the habit of taking initiative. When you do get lucky and an opportunity arises because you’re in the game, you must be willing to take initiative. Many times, opportunities are perishable and you must pursue them before the “freshness date” expires. This can be difficult sometimes, particularly if you’re already in a pretty good situation relative to the opportunity that is staring you in the face, but as the saying goes, it’s not possible to steal second base without taking your foot off of first.
  • Become comfortable with luck. Many “Type A,” driven people I know have a hard time acknowledging that luck plays a role in just about everything. You say “good luck” to them before an important event and they’ll say that they don’t need luck, as they are prepared. While I admire their drive and confidence, based on what I’ve seen in life and business, there’s little to no downside to admitting that luck and “randomness” play at least some role in the outcome (and the beginning) of most scenarios that matter. As humans, particularly when successful, we tend to like to attribute way too much of the outcome to how great we are. Nassim Taleb wrote a whole book about this called Fooled By Randomness – it’s not light reading, but I highly recommend it if you want to dig deeper into the topic.
  • Don’t use the existence of luck as an excuse not to prepare. None of what I’ve said above should be taken as justification to be unprepared! Purge from your mind any thoughts like “well, if luck is going to be the deciding factor in how this works out, then I don’t really need to be prepared”. No, that is not the correct interpretation. Luck is a factor; it is not the factor. You still need to prepare every time as if you’re in complete control of your destiny. You must do your best to make sure you’ve done everything possible to get the outcome you’re seeking. Then, if luck intervenes to help you on your way, it is just a bonus. If luck is against you that particular time, it is not the end of the world; learn what you can and move on.

As you continue to pursue your goals and dreams, if and when luck intervenes one way or another, don’t take it personally. Life is not conspiring for or against you! Most of what you achieve in life will be a function of the path you pursue, the initiative you take, and your willingness and ability to learn along the way. As long as you get yourself in the game, though, you give luck, or “lady luck” as she’s often called, a chance to make you lucky and help you along on the path to your goals and dreams. Just remember, don’t take it personally, and sometimes, as the saying goes, “it’s better to be lucky than good.”

Paul Morin