What's Luck Got to Do With It?

When you take the time to consider all of the common phrases that exist in the English language containing a reference to the work “luck”, it is little wonder that so many people possess such an overriding belief in its mystical powers. In fact, most of us would be hard pressed to go through the day without someone making reference to the word, luck. Each time we hear it, we nod our head and subconsciously buy-in to the all fire trap of thinking that success and luck go hand-in-hand.

When good fortune comes, we are said to be in luck. When the bad times befall us, our luck has run out. If lady luck smiles, good times are ahead. If she turns her back, we might as well stay in bed because nothing is going to go right.

Society does a masterful job convincing people that the key to having the life of their dreams is all about being lucky. While certainly luck does exist, after all people do win the lottery. A game of pure chance where there is absolutely no skill involved. It is purely random luck. However, the simple fact remains, most lottery winners, while lucky, will inevitably go broke. So it would seem they are unlucky when comes to holding on to their lottery winnings.

But what about success? What about achieving one’s goals and ambitions? Is that like the lottery? A game of pure chance where skill, effort, determination and perseverance have absolutely no bearing.

Sam Goldwyn the founder of the movie company MGM once said:

“It’s funny but the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”  

It was Goldwyn’s philosophy that we manufacture our own luck through the effort we put forth. Success in life is the outcome of cause and effect, winning the lottery is the outcome of luck.

Perhaps the reason people attribute success to luck is because they fail to recognize the full effort that went into creating it. People only see the success. What they fail to see is the hard work, setbacks, mistakes, persistence and tireless effort that it takes in order to outwardly appear lucky.

University of Hertfordshire Professor Richard Wiseman has studied nearly 2 million people, both the lucky and the unlucky. In his book, The Luck Factor, he set out to answer the age old question, why do some people seemed to always be in the right place at the right time? What he found was that these people were not any luckier, they were just quicker to spot and seize opportunities when presented with them. Their open-mindedness turned happenstance into what outwardly appears as a lucky break.

By working hard, these seemingly “lucky” people create more situations for themselves to spot and seize opportunity. Since they are more open to life's forking paths, they are more likely to see the possibilities others miss. And if things don't work out the way they'd hoped, they pick themselves up, dust off the disappointment and just keep moving forward.

The Four Rules for Manufacturing your Own Luck

Rule One: Willingly pay the dues and put forth the effort. There is no short cut to effort. The time you spend, the effort you put forth creates situations and circumstances where opportunity will present itself to you.

Rule Two: Keep an open mind and look for the opportunities in every situation you encounter. Luck and good fortune rarely wear a billboard with neon lights exclaiming success is right here! You have to keep an open mind and be aware the success is right out there, waiting for you to find it, but you will never see it if your eyes and mind are closed.

Rule Three: When setbacks and disappointments come, realize that they are just part of the journey, do not let them deter you. Every great success is built upon a foundation of obstacles and setbacks that have been overcome. History has proven this to be true, time and time again. Realize that every setback is just one more cinderblock in the foundation of you future success. When you make a mistake, realize it is just a bump in the road that is meant to teach you something. Win or learn is the philosophy of “lucky” people. Let your mistakes be your best teachers.

Rule Four: (The most important rule of all) Ignore the legions of “experts” telling you that you can’t do it. The world is full of people who would like nothing better than to include you in their club of mediocrity. If you want to be successful, if you want to be great, if you want to be “lucky” enough to realize your dreams and ambitions, you cannot follow the same pathway that mediocre people follow.

Follow these four simple rules and one day, you will find yourself lucky enough to be great.

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David Naylor is Executive Vice President of Global Learning and Development at 2logical, an industry leader in the Training and Development field. At 2logical, we help organizations fix their people problems by shifting employee mindsets. Two decades ago, we pioneered a transformative approach to developing peak performing employees. Far transcending the traditional means of closing skill gaps, 2logical perfected a method of closing the underlying belief gaps that are the root cause of virtually every employee performance issue. Forward thinking, industry leaders at many of the world's most recognized companies have embraced this strategy to develop their Leadership and Sales talent.

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