Careers, career advice, career management, personal brand management

Is It Dumb Luck Or By Design?

Mary Rosenbaum | July 9th, 2014

I overheard a conversation on the train recently and it went something like this:
“He was just lucky. It was a cold call and he had no idea this would turn into such a huge client. Just dumb luck.”

I believe that we create our own luck.

The odds of winning the lottery are 175 million to 1. The odds of an average golfer making a hole in one are 12,500 to 1 and a tour professional at 2,500 to 1.

People call these events luck.

I agree that winning the lottery is luck. There is very little skill involved in picking the numbers of a series of balls falling through a hole in a machine. It’s terrific if you win, but skill has nothing to do with it.

I define luck (with the exception of the lottery) as opportunity meeting preparedness.

I made a hole in one a couple of weeks ago. I am not a tour professional.

Although there is some luck involved in getting a hole in one, being able to hit the ball properly requires a lot of practice. Knowing which club to hit depending on the distance to the hole requires experience. Understanding how the wind, or lack of wind, affects the ball’s trajectory impacts the selection of the right golf club and that knowledge comes with practice and experience. And yes, the final ingredient is landing the ball in just the right place so it rolls right into the hole. Luck is part of the equation, but not the sole ingredient.

Your career success is made up of a series of events. Being introduced to the right people, getting the right job, getting selected for the right assignments, finding the right mentors/sponsors, being at the right place at the right time – all of these are a combination of skill, experience, planning, and yes, luck. But luck alone doesn’t take you far – without the experience, the knowledge, and the skills it would be difficult to make anything meaningful of the opportunity being presented. Additionally, unless you can provide value and a positive experience for those you work with and for, the “lucky” opportunity quickly fades into memory.

Being there when a door opens is the direct result of putting yourself in that location in the first place. Through careful planning and career management, knowing what you want to do professionally, where you want to go, and what you need once you get there is how you make opportunities come your way so you can then capitalize on them.

As for the “dumb luck” in the opening paragraph, without an effective pitch, this cold call would have gone nowhere. And let’s not forget that the call was actually made, therefore creating the opportunity. And without great service or product (I have no idea what he was selling), this would not have developed into a great client.

Luck = When Being Prepared Meets Opportunity

So how are you creating your own luck?

Want to take control of your career and convert opportunities into successes? Contact me.