That’s not just a line from my favorite movie.
Seriously, I’ve always said that the real secret to success is not really just hard work and “paying your dues”. It is those things, too, but it’s mostly about making the most of opportunities. In other words, it’s luck.
Now, don’t freak out. It’s not entirely about luck. But, when a lucky break comes, and they do come on a pretty regular basis, the people who succeed are the ones who can make the most of the opportunity. Now, my little pet theory is at least partially backed by science. According to Scientific American, the Role of Luck in Life Success is Far Greater Than We Realized. I can even give you an example from my own life. If you look at my resume, you’ll see that I majored in Marketing in college, thinking that I would go into sales, more or less like my father did. But, then, while trying to figure out a way to break into sales in the hospitality industry, I was offered an entry-level position in an IT department at the hotel where I was working. That’s lucky break number one. Then, while working there, the girl I was dating at the time (if you can count two dates as “dating”), pushed me a bit about where I saw my career going and what my ambitions were. Until then, I didn’t really have any ambitions. (Thanks, Eve! In a way, you launched my longer-term career!) While I was pondering that, a co-worker got an invite to a seminar about certification training for the hot, new LAN OS, Novell Netware. (Yes, that was a very long time ago!) He couldn’t go, but I could and I did. The “door prize” was full training and tests toward getting a Certified Novell Engineer certificate, which ran into the thousands of dollars, even back then. I won! Lucky break number two!
And, I really made the most of it. Those two lucky breaks, all of which took place in the space of less than three years, started me on a professional journey that has weathered many economic down-turns and personal challenges, all the while providing a very, very comfortable living for me and my family.
But, you can bet that I never, ever forget the role that luck, and my reaction time in capitalizing on it, played in my success.