Create Your Own Luck
By Robb Stevens
Honest seekers of success in any pursuit will concede that luck played an important role in their journey. Talent, expertise, determination, perseverance, and many more noble qualities are absolutely important, but so is luck. Whether it’s meeting the right person at the right moment, being in the right place at the right time, or making a snap decision that points you in the right direction, good fortune is a by product of sincere effort. It may seem at times that successful people are just luckier than everyone else, but luck isn’t just a random gift from the universe (winning the lottery is, but that’s a different kind of luck). Effort driven luck has less to do with what happens to you and more to do with how you think and act
In his book, “The Black Swan,” author Nassim Nicholas Taleb asserted that luck is the key force at the heart of our economic system, as the biggest rewards tend to come from the deepest unpredictability. The reason free markets work, he contends, is because they allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error, not by giving rewards or “incentives” for skill.
So often in business, luck is almost like an evolutionary power that rewards random adaptiveness. Luck and hope have a complicated relationship. As a business strategy, we certainly cannot simply rely on good fortune. Luck is unpredictable. That said, any successful salesperson believes in luck— not dumb luck, but the kind of luck that comes from hustling and provoking it! The more a salesperson believes that success is a combination of luck and effort, the more effective their sales activities will be. Making phone calls, meeting with and qualifying prospects, and gathering intel about competitors and the marketplace take on much more meaning and urgency when they believe luck is a by product of their efforts, so the opportunity to create luck certainly impacts behaviors and performance.
The strongest thrust behind good fortune is a person’s outlook on it. Author Wayne Dyer said: "if you believe it will work out, you'll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.” Lucky people are good at creating, noticing, and acting on chance opportunities. They do this in various ways, including strong networking, honing a chilled attitude to the uncertainties of life, and being open to new experiences. There’s no question that luck involves an element of chance, but “lucky” people respond to circumstances by spotting an opportunity and then acting on it. In fact, lucky people create their own luck by actively seeking to put themselves in the right place at the right time—and being in the right frame of mind to seize “lucky” opportunities.
The more a salesperson believes that success is a combination of luck and effort, the more effective their sales activities will be.
If any of us can create our own luck, what are the best ways to tap into it? What kinds of things can you and I do to influence our own luck?
Lucky people are certain the future will be bright. Over time, that expectation can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy because it leads to persistence in the face of failure and positively shapes interactions with others. When things appear to be going awry, they tend to turn bad luck into good by seeing how they can squeeze some benefit from the misfortune or turn lemons into lemonade. An optimistic outlook helps us to simply see more—and therefore increase our chances of finding luck—if we adopt the mindset that there is always more to see and more to learn.
BE INTENTIONALLY PROACTIVE:
Good luck has a multiplier effect which means opportunities tend to lead to more and bigger opportunities. Not doing something is as much a choice as doing something and there’s there can be a false sense of security in passivity. When we choose to remain static, it leads to a slow but steady decline. In reality, hanging back only seems like an easy solution but ultimately leads to far bigger problems and diminishes the luck that can come from actively seeking it out.
IMPROVE YOUR NETWORKING:
Perhaps you know someone who got lucky by meeting the right person at just the right time: The hiring manager your friend met at a party just days after being laid off; the angel investor your friend met at a fund raiser just days before his startup would have run out of operating capital; the CEO another friend met at a school play who became his company’s biggest account.
You can’t luck into meeting the right person if you’re deliberately reclusive or anti-social. That said, many of us are not naturally good at starting conversations with people we’ve never met, so it takes intentional effort and will be uncomfortable at times! The more people you meet, though, the more your odds of getting lucky will increase.
If what you need involves people – to buy, to connect, to mentor, to advise or to expand your horizons, you can only “luck” into the right conversation and relationship if you actively try to meet the right kind of people. Get out there; meet people; talk to the person next to you on the airplane or the person behind you in line; send a complimentary note to someone you don’t know who did something awesome. You never know where it may lead or who you might meet, especially if you assume good things will happen.
Fortune favors the brave, but fortune also favors the prepared. When you assume good things will happen you will be primed to seize the opportunity when you meet—and in time, you will—meet the right people.
Everyone wants the bigger customer or the bigger deal. You would love to sell to bigger customers, but you never will unless you try... a lot. You would love to connect with influential people in your industry, but you never will unless you try... a lot.
Most incredibly lucky people are incredibly persistent. They try, and try, and try some more. Many of those efforts don’t go anywhere, but some of them do. Is that luck or is that persistence, and a willingness to learn from what didn’t work and come back again more prepared, more skilled, more talented, and therefore more “lucky.
Unlucky people are passive and thus wait for the opportunity to come to them, but lucky people are proactive and discover for themselves what they want.
At times, good luck may simply be the right person saying “yes” at the right moment to your proposal, idea, sales pitch, or request. With that said though, no one can say yes until you ask. There is great truth to the phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Unlucky people are passive and thus wait for the opportunity to come to them, but lucky people are proactive and discover for themselves what they want. The job, the promotion, the sale, or whatever it may be, just ask for it. In the process, many people will indeed say, “no,” but some will definitely say, “yes.” Other people will assume you are just lucky, but you will know you made your own luck.
EXPAND YOUR BOUNDARIES:
Take chances and be curious. Luck tends to favor the curious. If you do the same things day after day in the same way, you will typically have the same predictable result. Curiosity can lead you to take on a side project, learn a new skill, or be open to new and different kinds of experiences.
By trying something new or even uncomfortable, you increase the possibility that good things will happen. As Louis Pasteur said: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
PAY IT FORWARD:
When we experience good fortune, there is always an opportunity to pay it forward in some way. As we do this intentionally, it will become more natural over time and will always tend to lead to more good things coming your way. Giving people tend to associate with other giving people—and by giving, they make each other “lucky.” Giving also tends to create relationships. When you’re sincerely generous, other people respond in kind: With advice, with connections, with assistance... with all kinds of things.
Gratitude is so often the answer to so much of the discontent or perception of “bad luck” that we experience in life. Sometimes being content with where we are and what we have can build within us an outlook on life that drives us to more positive outcomes. Whether you’re religious or not, gratitude for a higher power also matters and we would do well to acknowledge that often we aren’t just lucky, we’re also blessed. I love these song lyrics:
“Some would call it good fortune, some would call it good luck. Some would say that the stars align, but in my mind it doesn’t add up. No, some would call it good timing, but I know more than anything, I live in victory because I’m a child of the King. Not one battlefield did I win on my own. Every bounce that ever went my way, I know, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.” (I’m Not Lucky, I’m Blessed, Love & the Outcome)
At the end of the day, Luck in the true sense of the word is something you can’t control. Good fortune and bad fortune can happen to any of us at any time. What we can control though, is how we respond to circumstance or chance, and more importantly how often we put ourselves into positions where we can be “lucky.” While it may be easy to conclude that it’s better to be lucky than good, the truth is, it’s better to be good. Then your opportunity to be lucky will increase significantly!