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Luck is the tree you planted last week, last month, or last year. It is the culmination of a series of good decisions compounded over time.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Most see luck as happenstance—something that just happens out of nowhere. Very seldom does it work that way, however. There are four types of luck in this world. There’s dumb luck, like the kind you hope for when you buy a lottery ticket. There’s luck through repetition, like throwing a bunch of darts at a board—you’re bound to get a bullseye. There’s luck through preparation, when you become skilled at finding luck, like early-stage investors who saw Facebook and Uber when nobody else did. And there’s luck through character—when luck begins to find you. In every case, luck doesn’t just happen. Luck happens as a result of your actions. YOU bought the lottery ticket. YOU threw the darts. YOU did the research. And YOU built your character and mindset. In almost every situation to which you attribute it, “luck” played much less of a factor than you think.
As a suit salesman during my college years, I worked alongside two types of coworkers: I called them “the bitters” and “the getters.” The bitters were those who were desperate for a sale. They would argue and bicker over who’s “up” it was—slang for whose turn it was to take a customer. They would focus solely on sales numbers. The bitters saw the “luck” other salesmen were having and, true to their name, became bitter about it. The getters were those who got the most sales. They practiced their sales techniques, they went above and beyond for the customer, and they focused less on selling the suit and more on cultivating a relationship with their customer. Even if they didn’t make a sale on the first try, it was inevitable that the customer would come back to them. The getters seeded their luck every time they worked with a customer. Ironically, the only ones getting lucky on the sales floor were the bitters. With no concept of the long game, no appreciation of the process, and no grasp of personal agency, it was a wonder how they could ever achieve competitive sales numbers.
Luck compounds. It’s the Matthew Effect, or “the rich get richer.” When you spend all your time admiring and complaining about what you perceive to be other people’s luck, what you’re not doing is planting your own seeds of fortune.
Imagine two farmers. One who diligently works on their farm, tills the soil, and lays the groundwork for the summer harvest. The other farmer frets over bad soil conditions, complains when the weather is too cold, too hot, too rainy, too sunny, and wonders why the other farmer gets so “lucky” every year. Imagine how satisfied the diligent farmer is. Imagine how bitter the fretting farmer is. Imagine this repeating itself year after year over the course of a lifetime—each year, the bitterness increases because the fretting farmer spent all his time seeing luck, while the diligent farmer was seeding luck.
Successful leaders and teams don’t acknowledge luck in isolation. When they speak of luck, it’s because they had a hand in initiating it. They understand that people who make money aren’t lucky, they have just become the type of people who make money. People who get all the opportunities aren’t lucky, they have become the type of people who attract opportunity. People who achieve success in their career aren’t lucky, they have put in the work every single day to become the type of person who succeeds.
To accelerate your career and path to success, you must eradicate the word “luck” from your lexicon. Acknowledge that it exists and leave it at that. When you see other people getting “lucky,” assume they put in the work necessary for that luck to happen. Don’t be a “bitter” and see luck pass you by. Be a “getter,” live the long game, and plant the seeds today knowing you may not reap the benefits until well into the future.
There’s an opportunity cost for seeing luck.
Seed your luck and get back to work.
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