Luck Isn’t Always Luck

I’ve lead a very lucky life, there’s no doubt. I reflect on it often, and try to remain constantly grateful.

But there’s an aspect to my “luck” a friend brought to my attention that made me realize there’s much more to it than the serendipity the word luck implies.

One has to prepare and be open to being lucky.

To the extent I’m lucky it’s because I’ve been presented with opportunities. I still had to be open to them, be ready for them, and take action on them. I certainly wouldn’t say I was conscious of the effort. I was simply making decisions in the moment. It’s only later I realized much of my so-called luck was no more than being ready to embrace an opportunity life presented.

For example, I was extremely fortunate Microsoft was hiring in 1983, appearing as an opportunity in the form of a help wanted ad in the newspaper. I still had to take the stressful action of deciding to respond, go through the interview process, and eventually accept an offer.

But there was more than just the luck of the opportunity at play: I had worked to prepare myself as someone they would hire. Not as an effort or a goal I was pursuing, but the result of my education and experience making me who I was at the time. Not only did I need to take the opportunity, I needed to be ready.

A lot of work lead up to that particular bit of “luck”.

I don’t want to dismiss that my life has included its fair share of truly “out of my control” kind of luck. I lucked into great genetics and great parents. I was lucky to be born when and where I was. I am lucky to be afforded what we often refer to as “privilege” not because of anything I’ve done on my part, but simply because of a random collection of timing and characteristics.

There is true luck.

But it’s out of our control.

What’s more important is all that other “luck”: acting on the opportunities that come along.

Many refer to it as “making your own luck”. Looking back, I think of it more as being prepared and open. That means working hard towards your desires, never ceasing to learn, especially from your failures, and always being open to looking for and at least considering the opportunities life will steer your way.

Who knows? You might get lucky.

3 thoughts on “Luck Isn’t Always Luck”

    • In my opinion by attributing luck to a deity it’s too easy to side-step the fundamental nature of our own responsibility. All too often “God will provide” has been used as an excuse for inaction. (Or worse.)

  1. One of my hats is responding to people’s questions about aspects of their life.

    For many who ask about when they will get lucky, I get the impression they are waiting on a couch or patiently suffering while they wait for luck to show up.

    With my questioners, “Luck” has many meanings, generally subjective. One person may feel lucky when they have a pain-free day. Another when an item they’ve wanted to purchase goes on sale to make it affordable. And for some it means nothing but winning the lottery.

    Your definitions make sense to me. The luck of circumstances one has no control over and the luck of noticing and taking advantage of beneficial opportunities that avail themselves. Those who wait for luck to show up are less likely to notice opportunities that would otherwise be available to them.

    Will

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