I’ve always had mixed feelings about whether or not I believe in concepts such as “Luck” and “Destiny”. My dad always told me that there’s no such thing as luck and that you create your own destiny. He was very much a realist and firmly believed in taking responsibility for all the good and bad that happens to us in life. Regarding luck, he probably said it something like this, “Luck, ha, what a load of crap. Luck is nothing more than where preparation meets opportunity. You make your own luck. Now go clean your room.”
Being a business owner, I've had a lot of conversations with other entrepreneurs that share their stories about how they built their business, the struggles they endured and the choice moments of success that made it all worthwhile. The amount of hard work, commitment and passion that’s required is always far greater than anyone ever imagined or expected. Interestingly, however, almost everyone that’s built a business will tell you that, in addition to the intense amount of hard work, there’s a certain amount of luck involved with business success. When I hear this of course, my dad’s voice chimes off in my head saying “ah what a load of crap”, but I keep this inner voice to myself and just listen and agree.
In some ways, unlike my dad, I do believe in a certain amount of luck – there are things that happen in life and in business that just seem to come out of nowhere, that give a sudden boost in success. It’s tough to explain events like that in any other way than as pure luck. For the most part, however, I don’t think luck plays all that much of a role. What I do believe in is these three things: preparation, execution and timing. And of course, a tremendous amount of hard work, but that’s a different side of the conversation.
Luck, I think, is often the word we use for when we act on good opportunities. It might seem like luck, but the reality is that opportunities are everywhere and happening all the time. Whether you recognize them or act on them is the key factor as to whether or not they add to your business success.
Opportunities present themselves continuously in life and in business. Opportunities often show up because you’ve worked hard to create them; and they also appear because you’re clever enough to be at the right place at the right time to find them.
Once they appear, however, opportunities are only useful if:
- You’re prepared for them
- You can recognize them as opportunities
- You actually act on those opportunities (execution)
- You don’t let any pride or hubris get in the way of embracing them. In other words, sometimes you need to give up something, or be a little self-effacing, to fully capitalize on an opportunity
Luck can also be equated with timing. Timing is everything, some people say: being at the right place with the right product or service at the right time with the right message to the right market, etc. But timing isn’t just random, and for the most part you can control the timing of things. Being at the right place at the right time is rarely a fluke - in business you have to continue to anticipate where the right places are, and when the ideal time to be there will be. Along with that of course, you have to be prepared with the right product and the right message to deliver once you’re there. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t – but you have to keep trying and trying to find those choice moments, and if you’re calculated about it, you will have some hits amongst the misses.
Some things I've Learned
One of the lessons I have to constantly remind myself of is that I can’t force timing. I have some control over it, but I can’t force something to happen until it’s ready. Timing may be everything, but there’s a substantial amount of patience that goes along with that. I also have to be honest with myself when I’m wrong and need to back off – there’s no point in wasting effort and money over something that’s never going to happen just because I’m too proud to admit it. And finally, I need to continuously learn and take the pulse of what’s happening so that I can best gauge the best timing, the best market and the best message. Then, if I’m lucky, these opportunities and strategies will pay off.