I see a lot of people writing about luck these days. Pretty successful people, actually. They’re frustrated because others see them as lucky when, really, they just worked hard, took advantage of opportunities, and made things happen for themselves.
They stuck their necks out and took a risk and it paid off.
The general sentiment seems to be that luck doesn’t actually exist.
While I understand the reaction, it’s not really true. Luck does exist. It exists in may forms. When we’re born, what race and nationality we are, who we’re born to, etc. is all determined by luck, and you have no control over it. Some of us get lucky and are dealt the best starting hand while some of us are handed a tough combo to play.
Luck definitely exists. Yet, underneath the whole “no such thing as luck” mantra, is a really valuable lesson and this is where these folks I’m talking about really got it right.
Luck does exist, but as soon as you rely on it, you lose.
If you think for one second that you’re not able to do what you really want to do in life because you started with a disadvantage, you’ll never have what you want because it’s impossible to muster up the motivation necessary to make it with that type of mindset.
Luck exists, you see, but it can be overcome.
Two Kinds of People
I don’t normally like to speak generally, but generally speaking, I find there are two kinds of people in the world: those who work hard, work smart, try a lot of things, and seize opportunities, and then there are people with bad luck.
You could call the first group lucky, but that’s not really the case. There are all kinds of people that worked their way to the top starting with a very ugly hand, and they did it because they didn’t believe that being born a certain way could stop them from becoming who they wanted to be.
- They tried lots of things. They tested lots of ideas until something eventually worked. No one saw all the failures that lead up to success, so they’re labeled one of the “lucky ones.” But they know better.
- They quit the right things. They learned to tell when they should give up and when they should keep plugging away. When something finally worked, they didn’t hesitate to let everything else go in order to pursue it.
- They acted on every opportunity. They built big networks of amazing people and when an opportunity came their way, they said “yes.” It didn’t always work out, but it always came closer than if they’d said “no.”
Most importantly, they believed that they were the ones in charge of their destiny, so they took it upon themselves to get what they wanted. Luck really wasn’t a factor.
Take Johnny B. Truant for example. If you just look at the surface of his story you might see nothing but good luck. He came out of nowhere last year and built a six figure business around a really simple idea and instantly had connections with a lot of big names. But therein lies the problem – the surface doesn’t tell the whole story.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that just before he made it, he was moments from financial ruin, plagued with expensive health problems, and wondering if anything would work after his other failed ventures. If you’d known Johnny then, you probably wouldn’t call him lucky.
The Other Half
And then there are the rest. They think of themselves as unlucky, but that’s not really the case either. Things just seem to happen to them, and it’s never good. They’re not sure why others are enjoying success while they suffer misfortune after misfortune, but they’re pretty sure it has nothing to do with them and they don’t think it’s quite fair.
- They try a few things here and there, but never really commit to anything. Rather than seeing failure as an opportunity to try something new, they see it as validation of their belief that they’re just unlucky.
- They quit their ideas that actually have potential. They don’t realize that everyone who made it took three times longer than they expected to. When things got too tough or just plain boring, they gave up instead of looking for a better way to do it. They went back to the easy things that never go anywhere because it’s less work to figure out.
- They never find good opportunities. They hang out with people that are convenient instead of inspiring. As a result, they’re only ever offered mediocre opportunities that, of course, they said “no” to.
Basically, they don’t believe that they’re in control of their life. They think that things happen to them instead of because of them.
I understand, really. Just think how hard it must be to do anything meaningful when the whole world is conspiring against you. The easier option is to just wait for some good luck to come along. The problem, though, is that it never does.
Even good luck can turn into bad luck with that mindset. I’ve read of lottery winners whose lives were ruined by the bad luck that came from their fortunes.
All said, I do think it’s possible to change if you realize that all you’re ever dealt is bad luck and truly want something different for yourself.
Here’s what I would do if I wanted more “good luck” in my life:
- I would say yes more. I would say it more often to more people, more ideas, and more opportunities. It’s going to take a lot of tries to manufacture the good luck you want and saying no doesn’t count as an attempt.
- I’d build more friendships. Not just more friends, but better ones, too. I’d stop hanging out with people who are just convenient and start looking for people who are truly inspiring to me. Your friends are your network and your network is what opens doors to opportunities. Inspiring friends = inspiring opportunities.
- I’d push back when things got tough. Your intuition can tell you a lot about whether an idea is worth pursuing or not, but it can’t make a difficult task easy. I’d quit doing the wrong things, and I’d lean into the work that’s hard but is also the right work.
Most of all, I’d work on changing my perspective about what really makes good and bad luck.
You have to be willing to give up the idea that you’re helpless and things just happen to you. You have to replace that with the belief that “good luck” only happens when you make it happen. That’s a very powerful transition.
The truth is, bad things happen to everybody. The only difference is the lucky people take it upon themselves to step up and do something about it so they can get back to being lucky.
If you’ve had some terrible things happen to you in life, I feel for you. I know how hard it can be to see opportunity in what feels like hopelessness. But here’s the thing, every failure really is an opportunity.
Everyone I know that’s ever done anything interesting has failed many times figuring it out. I spent a whole year writing a blog that went nowhere before starting Riskology.co and finding success. And that was at the most downward looking moment of my whole life.
Believe in luck if you like, but rely on it at your own risk.
So here’s what to do now:
1) Leave a comment letting me know what you can do to start “producing” more good luck in your life.
2) Take a second to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or Stumbleupon. I’d really appreciate it.
3) Sign up for free email updates to get my 5 Risks That Made History email series and never miss an article.
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