It’s inevitable that there’s luck involved in success. Why? Just think about the glorification of merit in our society today. We’ve been raised to think that success is a result of talent and hard work, but the fact is also that our talents happen to be treasured in the current economy. (Many of us would probably be useless in the Middle Ages.)
All that said, I do think that there is great value in believing that we are lucky and really leaning into that. (NOT in a new-age The Secret way, obviously.)
I think of luck as two interconnected parts:
- Mindset: Believing you can do it, and thinking big.
- Action: Be at the right place at the right time.
I think when you believe and feel you’re lucky, you build momentum for yourself. You recognize the things that are going well and tune out the things that aren’t going to help you get where you want to go. You dare to think big and believe that you’ll be able to figure it out no matter what.
The downside is a false sense of security that you’re invincible and nothing could ever go wrong, until they inevitably do. So it’s a balance. The biggest part about having the right mindset of being lucky is that it opens the doors to you taking action and being open to serendipity – you don’t mind trying things out, and you believe that things will go positively, so you naturally act in accordance with that belief.
How much of success is luck? A lot of it, but much of it is also about being at the right place at the right time. But usually, when we say “luck” in the context of striving, we don’t mean dumb luck – so it follows from something. It is a factor of what you did yesterday that leads to you being able to take this step today.
I think of it as: If you don’t go places and you don’t spend the time, how will you get to your goals? Sometimes it’s just about acting on things even if you don’t know where they’ll lead you. The only way to optimize it is to keep taking steps, stabbing in a direction you think could be helpful to you.
Seemingly useless things can turn out to be useful later on. I find trying out new approaches or ideas or activities, seemingly random or irrelevant, can be a great way to embrace that serendipity that we hope to capture in being lucky.
Optimize for luck
Sometimes people tell you you’re lucky and that’s why you’re successful (or at least maybe they think that without saying it to your face). Or maybe sometimes we say that to sound humble. But it’s actually the truth; we are lucky to have some valuable skill or talent or opportunities that are unique to us, so we might as well embrace it!
September 15, 2021