May 272017
 
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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

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Dec 292015
 
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Ideas Without Initiative – The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake

Do you have a lot of ideas “sitting on the shelf”? Big ideas. Small ideas. Million dollar ideas…

Take a moment to imagine yourself many years in the future, reflecting back on the life you’ve lived. You think about the things you’ve done, including the great moments you’ve spent with friends and family, the things you’ve tried, your great successes and your so-called failures. You also think about another category: the things you’ve never tried.  Ideas you’ve never pursued.

What do you think you’ll take the most pride and satisfaction in? What will you regret?

I’m sure the answer varies for each individual, but I also think there’s some commonality across all people. In talking with hospice nurses and in researching what people regret as they reach the end of their life, one thing always comes up: “the things I never had the courage or confidence to try”.

Think about it even at this stage of your life. What do you regret most?

For me, the answer already parallels what the hospice nurses and others have reported about people regretting toward the end of their lives: the roads not followed, the initiative not taken.

The title above is “Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake,” but I think this point applies to everyone, entrepreneurs and others. You do not want to look back at your life and regret the roads you did not take!

If you’re contemplating entrepreneurship and you haven’t been able to pull the trigger, stop worrying and go for it! Note, I am not saying don’t think your venture through as much as possible! I’m saying once you’ve done your research and your calculations, if all looks reasonably good, muster the confidence to take that step!

Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding. It can also be very challenging. There’s risk involved, of course, but if you’ve done your analysis, hopefully you have belief that the potential upside is commensurate with the risk.

So, what is likely to be holding you back?

I would be willing to wager that it’s not a lack of ideas. If it is, look harder – there are plenty of great ideas out there, some of which you may be able to convert into a profitable business.

If it’s not a lack of ideas and opportunities, what is it? In most cases, it comes down to the fear of failure! You’ve likely been successful in some areas of your life and you don’t want to put your self-image or the perception other people have of you at risk. You’re not willing to put it on the line or put yourself out there, as the saying goes.

Alternatively, you haven’t experienced much success to this point in your life, and you’re concerned that any new venture you undertake wouldn’t be any different. How can you change this perception and reality? Do your homework! Prepare. Don’t just wing it. Take a more diligent approach and you’ll increase your confidence and your likelihood of success.

Whatever you do though, make sure it’s not this: Nothing. Just thinking and then not following through with initiative and action will get you only one place: Nowhere.

Resolve to make this the year that you take action. Redefine “failure” as an opportunity to learn. If all doesn’t go exactly as planned, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward! Do your homework, then take that step!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Sep 222011
 
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take initiative

To Succeed, Learn To Take Initiative

There are many definitions of success, but to achieve most any of them, you must learn to take initiative.  Unless you have a “lottery mentality” and are content to just hope that all works out OK and you simply, miraculously “become successful,” you need to be willing to set goals, then take initiative and do whatever it takes to achieve them.

Take a look around at the successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, sports stars and other people that you know or know of.  How many of them are current or former pilots or avid sailors?  Ted Turner, Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Williams, John Travolta, Harrison Ford and Arnold Palmer come to mind, but the list is much longer.  What does one have to do with the other?

In all my time as an entrepreneur and now increasingly as I have started doing more coaching, research and writing on the topics of entrepreneurship, human “greatness” and peak performance, one pronounced trend I have noticed in those who succeed in all sorts of endeavors, is that they take control of their own destiny.  They leave the “employee mentality” behind and develop the habit of determining and describing in a detailed way all that they are trying to accomplish, and then they chart a course to get there.

When they chart that course, they know that there will be obstacles and they know that they will likely be off-course a good portion of the time, but they also know that it is far better to have an imperfect path charted than to have nothing at all and just hope for the best.  Successful people take initiative.  They determine where they want to go, they set specific goals, and then they “just do it”.  They don’t sit around waiting for success to come to them without effort or initiative.  They know that is a fool’s game.

At its essence, this mentality boils down to taking control and taking ownership of your life, your ventures and your future.  You must become the “pilot” of your life – even if you don’t literally become a pilot, you must assume the leadership, responsibility and control of where you take all aspects of your life.  Rather than just being a passenger in life, take initiative!  Think of yourself as the “pilot” of your life.  It’s OK to have co-pilots, but it’s not OK to just sit in the back of the plane and hope that whoever is taking initiative and piloting your life will get you where you want to go.  Do you know where you want to go?  Are you willing to step up, take initiative and become the pilot of your business and the rest of your life?

Like those “successful” people and the “greats” mentioned above, you must be willing to take initiative realizing that life hardly ever goes exactly according to plan; you will need to monitor your progress and course-adjust on a regular basis.  You must also learn to react calmly in the face of changes and danger; only by overcoming your fears will you be able to reach your goals.  The knowledge and confidence inherent in having a course charted and having developed contingency plans will help considerably in maintaining calm and “pressing on”.

Be bold.  Take charge.  Take initiative.  Overcome your fears and other limitations.  Become the “pilot” of your life and all your ventures and watch how the results you achieve improve markedly.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but we’ve had a few get caught up in the filter.

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