Talent Is Nice, but Luck Is Vital; 3 Steps to Prepare for Opportunity

Inspired by the recent NY Times article “Talent Is Nice, but Luck Is Vital” regarding the N.C.A.A. tournament, I was reminded of a favorite quote; “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” by Elmer G. Letterman.

In the simplest terms, I’m a change agent. I’m the guy that comes into someone’s organization, takes a quick & objective balcony view of the situation, and then goes to work affecting change where it needs to happen in order to accelerate success. Due to my practical managerial experience & background, before I even take my first step, I include the entire enterprise in the solution so as to guarantee effective buy-in, engagement, enthusiasm, momentum & long-term success.

Step 1; You are what you’ve experienced

One of the things that most people don’t seem to understand until they embrace some form of professional counseling on a personal level, is that what you are.. is a result of what you’ve become.. as a direct influence of what you’ve been exposed to (experienced) throughout your life. Every waken & regressed memory since you’ve come out of your mother’s womb, has you view the world around you, and yourself, through a very personalized & highly biased set of lenses. We’ve all made choices in our lifetime that have brought us to where we are today, so we have only ourselves to thank for the places we’ve been and experienced since the time we reached our (adult) independence of choice. You are in control of your life, believe it or not, so the next step & fork in the road is yours to decide.

Step 2; Opportunity only knocks once

I actually believe it knocks more than once if you’re persistent, but it is true that you create your opportunities through heightened awareness. Unless you’re setting purposeful intentions, and systematically reflecting on what you want to attract into your life, to then setting a course to achieve it.. the fact is that opportunities will simply pass by your doorstep every single day without you even realizing it. Whether it’s someone new with a unique perspective to yours, or something you read or witness, rather than resisting what’s foreign to you, if you observe what’s “on offer” for a moment.. you might just “luck-out” and discover something new that will radically change or accelerate the course of life you’re on. We all have biased lenses, and so it’s a key rule to get past that immediate biased judgement and see what’s beyond. Ask questions, do some sort of scenario planning, role playing, even “try it on for size” to see if it’s something you could grow into. The more you’re prepared for unique opportunities, the more in abundance they will appear.

Step 3; We are what we repeatedly do

I believe it was Aristotle who once said; We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. What are the habits that are working for you? Against you? What are the NEW habits you need to repeatedly practice, step-by-step replacing the ones that aren’t working for you? Whether it’s the game of basketball or the game of life, if you want to get good at something, you’d better practice. If you have a natural talent for something, then practice a little harder and you’ll be the very best-in-league at what you do. When the ball spins on the rim & takes a “lucky bounce” to fall in & win the game.. was it really luck? Or was it the spin (consequence of repeated practice) that the player instinctively put on the ball that heightened the probability of the lucky bounce? Ask any professional sports player about luck.. and they’ll share with you stories of the endless hours of practice that have increased their repetitive luck. Practice what you want to achieve, over and over again, and create the lucky bounces that will come your way.

Three parting thoughts

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out” by Titus Livius; When you don’t get the results you expected or desired, accept what you get as an opportunity to learn, and opportunity to adjust, and opportunity try again and perfect the outcome.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying; “The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t like to do.” Samuel Beckett is noted for; “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Don’t be afraid to fail! Just don’t repeatedly fail at the same thing.. because that just shows that you didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to learn from your first failure.

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