- So, what is luck?
- Luck, Behind the Scenes
- Don’t Chase Luck
Let’s get straight to it. Seeing a black won't break or make your luck. Luck is often misunderstood and mired in a million superstitions that make it almost unrecognizable – elusive and mysterious. People pursue luck like it's their life goal. Often unaware that hard and consistent work over the years is far more valuable than a single stroke of luck.
Luck is the success or failure brought on by chance. Luck is often attributed to circumstances beyond your control. But it is seldom so. Luck is almost always years in the making.
Author Ryan Holiday came up with a very intriguing statement. He says, “Luck is polarizing. The successful like to pretend it does not exist. The unsuccessful or the jaded pretend that it is everything”. Your perception of luck possibly depends on which category you belong to. For some of us, luck is somewhere between being a reality and a concept. Luck remains an obscure concept for many. Let’s try to untangle what luck is.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”
A famous quote by the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity” to a certain degree clears the concept of luck. According to the quote, most often the will and efforts put in by people create the chances, which are later termed as luck by the rest. It is all about trying until you get that one opportunity that changes your life.
People might get lucky once but getting lucky all the time is a myth. If we pull the curtain and peek behind luck, we will see preparation. Preparation is an important ingredient behind luck. Not as talked about, and certainly not as appealing, people seldom believe that preparation is the surest way to get lucky.
Preparation accounts for the hard work that people put in to achieve whatever they want. It may include learning necessary skills, practicing them on regular basis, setting rules, etc. It is not just physical hard work. Preparing yourself mentally for upcoming challenges is also a part of preparation. The more time you give for preparation, the luckier you’ll get.
We often begin our preparations with enthusiasm, and as the days pass, we start feeling demotivated and drained. Why does this happen? There are several reasons:
- Our inability to focus on the long term: When we start working towards a long-term goal or start building good habits that are the building blocks of a lucky life, we start with the utmost enthusiasm. Take, for instance, the example of getting up early in the morning. While we all know it's a worthy habit, we’ve all failed to get up early for days (even months and years) in a row. This is because we are unable to appreciate the long-term benefit of getting up early because we haven't ever experienced them. However, we do experience the short-term pain of getting up early immediately – lack of sleep, getting out of the cozy bed into the biting cold, moving our bodies when we are deep in sleep, etc. This inability to see or experience the long-term benefits and the gruesome short-term pains makes it almost impossible to get up early.
- We don't have a clear ‘why’: The bigger reason why we don’t follow through, however, is our inability to articulate why we are getting up early in the morning. We subconsciously ask ourselves this question right before we hit that snooze button. And if we can't come up with a strong answer, we go right back to bed. However, if you have a strong reason to get up early (a trip with friends), then it becomes easy to wake up fresh early in the morning.
So, what drives your preparation? Why do you want what you want? If you dig deeper and ask yourself “but why?” to the first 3-4 answers you give yourself, you will eventually get to the actual reason.
This simple 2-step technique will help a lot when you are in the preparation phase. But luck does not just stop at preparation. You need another ingredient. Action. Actually doing the work. Taking those small opportunities that come your way and making the most of them. So, you have the experience and the expertise to get lucky when a big opportunity comes along.
Taking action is critical to becoming lucky. Many believe that just preparing for what's coming and waiting for the big opportunity is enough when it is not. Unless we chisel away at what is presented to us, we will not get lucky. We will keep waiting for that golden opportunity.
For instance, don't just wait for that dream job that seems unreal. Take that temp job that will pay a few bills and keep you in the workforce. If you do well in your temp position, you are likely to get promoted and handed that luck break you were looking for all along. But it will not come your way unless you prepare for it and take action toward it.
“Luck is rarely a lightning strike.”
– Tina Seelig
In the world of ASAP, EOD, and Instant Prime everything, we’ve forgotten all about patience. We want everything now and in the moment. Delivered to us today. Luck often takes its sweet time. Luck does not abide by anyone’s timeline. It just happens. The Harry Potter writer JK Rowling did not just get lucky with her books. She persevered. She wrote her books for years. She saved up all her money to get manuscripts printed and mailed to publishers. She was rejected over 50 times.
People who do not know her story think she got lucky, but she worked long and hard as she lived in poverty. She prepared for years, took action and sent manuscripts to many, and she waited for years as well. Only to strike gold and get lucky during the umpteenth attempt.
So, if you are struggling right now or preparing to get lucky, then hang in there. Don’t give up because your dreams are not manifesting fast enough. Take inspiration from those who came before you. Be patient. And keep on keeping at it.
More importantly, don’t do any of this with the intention of getting lucky. Luck, in that way, is elusive. If you keep chasing it, you will remain in its chase for a lifetime. If you focus on your work and just keep taking one step at a time as it is presented to you, you are sure to stumble on luck during your journey. Like we discussed earlier, what seems like luck is almost always just preparation meeting opportunity.
It does not matter how big or small the opportunity is, making the most of it is the key. Not letting even, a small opportunity slip by without truly making the most of it is quintessential.
Other than developing the traits that we mentioned above, what else can you do to make the most of the opportunity and become lucky? Here are some suggestions that will help you make the most of every opportunity that comes your way:
- Getting out of your comfort zone: Instead of listening to music while traveling, get out of your comfort zone and speak to the person who is sitting next to you. Experiment with new things, meet new people and have new experiences.
- Being grateful: Saying ‘thank you’ can do wonders. Being grateful for all the opportunities that come your way (small and big) cultivates the right mindset to attract luck.
- Listening to your gut: Your gut never lies. Learn to listen to your instincts. Over the years, we’ve suppressed our natural instincts and forgotten how to listen to them. Are you procrastinating a decision? Dragging your feet when it comes to applying for a ‘too good to be true’ job? It’s important to hone in on your instincts and truly understand what your gut is trying to tell you.
- Reducing judgments: Of ourselves and of others. Reducing our judgmental voice will help us in looking at the situation creatively and coming to a solution you’d likely dismiss if you are judging the situation in the first place.
When we follow these simple (but certainly not easy) tips, we are bound to stumble on luck, sooner than later.