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making the most of good luck
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Monday, 24 August 2009

I’ve been lucky today. Been in the right place at the right time. A successful beneficiary of coincidence. I wish every day could be like today...

And therein lies the challenge. There is lots talked about luck, from things that are generally considered to be superstition (walking under ladders, black cats, salt over the shoulder and so on) to the management training or guru-speak of “you make your own luck” and other thoughts that in essence can pile the pressure on individuals to take responsibility for the luck, good or bad, that they have.

As (I believe) a pretty straightforward, down-to-earth chap, I’m much less interested in the part of luck that can genuinely be deemed chance, and much more interested in the part that is, to however minimal an extent, within our control. What are the things that we can do to increase our chances of success? Good and bad luck will appear in everyone’s lives at various times and in various quantities, but the difference to me is what people do with that luck.

My personal example from today is very simple. I decided to take a day off work and join in a kids “den-building” programme that my daughter was taking part in. About 20 children from the village were there, along with the “Play Rangers” team from the local authority who’d organised the event.

As the children were naming their dens and creating passwords for who could get in each one, I got chatting to the head “Play Ranger” about what I did for a living (being the only male parent at most children’s events makes you stand out a little!). I gave my casual version of the “elevator pitch” (a concept I usually abhor, hence my personal need to do it casually), and she expressed an initial interest in us at training reality working with the council groups on leadership and leader development, as well as teamwork. My ears pricked up...

As the day came to a close, we chatted further, and she mentioned that there were other departments she’s worked in or knows that could do with the sort of management training work we deliver. Then she said something wonderful - please let me have your contact details so I can tell them about you and how good you are.

Now, I’d not been there to do any training, or any sales, or anything other than spend a day with my daughter and have a bit of fun. But, as I was in a great state, being natural and working hard to engage my team of kids, she’d seen the results and perfectly naturally interpreted that as a skill that is (obviously) useful in running training courses.

So, was I lucky today? Yes, of course I was. But the bit that made the difference is what I did (and will continue to do) with that stroke of luck...pursue it, and make something really positive happen out of it.

I think that there are some things you can do to change the absolute amount of luck (good and bad) that you have - more in a future blog - and what the relative split of good and bad is, but much more important is the ability to observe and pay attention to what happens around you and make the very, very most of it. Those who spot good luck and run with it, or those who spot bad luck and deal with it, are the successful ones - the absolute quantity is less important.

Ending with a quote today, from an old Japanese proverb:

“The day you decide to do it is your lucky day”

More on luck to follow...

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August 27, 2009 - 09:44
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Luck is so subjective - when I lost my job in 1984 I thought I was really unlucky. Then I found a better job, fell in love with someone I met at work (got married) and realised just how lucky I had been.

Some people are lucky and win the lottery only to find that the presence of a large amount of cash in their lives, blights their relationships and brings them misery and isolation. Lucky?

Is luck another name for events and are they lucky or unlucky depending on how we look at them ? Every event in our lives causes us to make decisions and some work out to be great and some not so.

Some people religious people I know have faith that everything happens for a reason and the reason is always good, even though it may not appear so at the time. So, when something 'bad' happens they look forward to finding out what 'good' will result as a consequence, or what 'bad' event they avoided .

Quite a useful philosophy to have, I think. So, for instance a speeding ticket isn't bad luck - it may save your life from reckless driving !

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