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A Stroke of Luck

Are you ‘lucky ready’? Do you believe that your success is largely a random act of chance or can you create it? Creating career success requires us to identify opportunities as they arise AND being ready to grab them with both hands.

Carol Yang

A Stroke of Luck

‘Luck is simply a matter of preparation meeting opportunity’ – Oprah Winfrey

No doubt many of us have looked back over times in our life and reflected on how lucky we were – be it a chance encounter, a new opportunity; a new environment; or maybe it was more about having a ‘lucky escape’.

But is there more to it than simply being lucky?

Does our success depend mainly on random acts of chance such as being in the right place at the right time or other factors that largely lie outside of our control? Or conversely can we create our own luck?

How we view and answer these questions can significantly impact our career, the decisions we make, the degree of effort we invest in our current role, our future professional pathway and the way we lead our people and businesses.

A recent study by the Institute for the Study of Labour concluded that if you subscribe to the belief that things outside of your control determine your success, you are inclined to make less effort in pursuing your career ambitions. Questions and thoughts such as ‘what’s the point? If luck isn’t on my side it won’t make a difference’ seem to pervade a person’s thought process.

This way of thinking is often referred to as learned helplessness. If you believe that despite your best efforts you cannot make an impact you invest less effort. If you invest less effort, you will be less successful and so starts the vicious circle that then only reinforces the belief that you can’t change anything.

For those of you who have led teams and individuals where this thinking exists, you will have experienced the frustration and challenge to motivate, engage and raise levels of performance. Not just for the greater good of the business but for the individuals concerned. The loss of morale and opportunity is costly to both the business’s bottom line as well as the careers of the people involved.

To succeed in our careers and businesses we need to be ‘lucky ready’. We need to firstly believe that new opportunities can and will arise and we need to be prepared for when they do. When we are prepared, we are more strongly positioned to identify them when they come along and ready to act confidently, decisively and in a timely manner.

There is a common view that people who tend to believe that they are lucky get more out of life. Whilst this can also be said for those who are optimistic, people who are lucky not only think it, they are prepared to act on it.

So what behaviours do lucky people adopt? How many do you believe you possess and what behaviours could you sharpen to become more ‘lucky ready’?

Spot and Act on Opportunities: Lucky people are curious people. They seek to create, notice and act upon the chance encounters, the serendipitous moments and the new and unknown. They are not happy to sit and wait for opportunities to come to them, they actively engage in the world with their eyes wide open and in doing so attract opportunities.

Display Confidence: Your confidence to identify and act on opportunities will be greatly enhanced when you know exactly what your core strengths, interests and areas of knowledge are. How confident are you in knowing exactly what yours are and where they best apply?

Foster Relevance: Luck is being smart enough to keep yourself valuable by remaining relevant and ahead of the curve with your specialty. Learning and training does not end with graduation. It requires ongoing practice, honing and more often than not the ability to unlearn old ways and relearn new ones.

Display Resilience: Lucky people are able to transform their bad luck into good fortune. They know how to dust themselves down and learn from their experiences and how to adapt their behavior to reduce the chances of bad luck in the future.

Seek Variety: By actively seeking out variety in the people you meet, your daily routines, and the interests you foster, you are forcing yourself into different areas, networks and opportunities. It opens up both the world of possibility and your confidence to act.

Take Risks: Successful people take risks – albeit calculated ones – in order to maximise opportunities. They understand that to improve, increase capacity, remain competitive and relevant they need to continually adapt or create new ways of doing things. They also understand the risk of doing nothing.

Build Meaningful Networks: Building and maintaining diverse, meaningful networks that regularly expose you to new experiences and environments will introduce new people, ways of thinking and opportunities.

Think Lucky: Lucky people expect good luck and they expect it to continue. As a result, they are more likely to embrace the unknown with confidence, try new ways of doing things, and take more risks. They persevere when things are not going their way and believe that solutions and success are there for them.

You can act to ensure you optimise your success.

This is not about saying that chance encounters, changed circumstances or serendipity don’t have a major impact on our lives. The fact is they do – and small things can change absolutely everything. However it is not so much the event itself but whether or not we recognise it for what it is and how we respond.

It is our openness to recognise opportunity and preparedness to act that will enhance our luck and good fortune.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot – The Career Diplomat

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