December 19, 2019
In the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about Luck a lot — in terms of how a chain of random events can lead us to our destination.
With that, every time I mention “luck” in a conversation, others think that I am talking about just kicking back and waiting for things to happen — which actually is the very opposite of what I am talking about.
I was even happy to hear Jason Fried talk about luck recently.
With the success he’s had, it’s very humbling to hear this from him.
I used to think luck didn’t matter. It’s embarrassing to even think about who I must have been when I allowed myself to think that. I remember even saying it on stage in 2009 at Y Combinator’s Startup School. Luckily, we’re all capable of change.— Jason Fried (@jasonfried) September 21, 2019
Lucky = Work + Luck
What I actually mean when I say —“You need luck to succeed!” — is that you must work towards your goal, believe, pray, and do everything that will help you get closer to achieving your goals.
Though, at the end of the day, I know that Luck is what separates runway successes from everyone else.
I don’t think we’re entirely doomed, though.
Luck is all around us.
Opportunities are in every step of the way.
Being alert and aware gives us a higher chance to see these opportunities clearly.
Yes, timing, alertness, preparedness, all play a role. But, luck without work is nothing but a missed opportunity.
You may have a chance to do something great, but if you find out that you’re not capable in the sense that you haven’t put in the work, that lucky break will quickly vanish into thin year.
Worst yet, you may not even notice it and miss the lesson entirely.
The surfer analogy
Lets say an ocean wave represents luck. If Leah, who’s an aspiring surfer, is not capable of riding that wave, it will pass her by in a split second.
She will miss out a great opportunity, because she didn’t put in the work beforehand.
On the other hand, lets say Leah has been working on her surfing skills for quite some time and has had her share of missed waves, but this particular day, she notices an awesome wave (luck) is building up momentum right behind her. She’s ready this time around. She sees the wave. She’s aware of it. She doesn’t only catch the wave (the lucky break), but is able to ride it out to the shore.
But, until that wave showed up, Leah was working and honing her skills, day in and day out.
You and I don’t have the power to manifest a wave (luck).
All we have to do is be ready and aware as we sharpen our skills.
That’s the type of luck I am talking about.
A little thought excercise
Lets think there are two similar Vals with similar attitudes and work ethic. They have both invented a powerful battery that can last 10x more than what Tesla currently has.
However, in the parallel universe where Val A resides, nuclear fission goes mainstream and people don’t need batteries any longer.
Though, in Val B’s parallel universe, nuclear fission is considered harmful to Earth and his battery invention goes mainstream.
Working towards your goal is a must. Having a slight dose of believing that somehow things will come together helps you stay positive and alert in knowing when to change your ways and when to grab on an opportunity.
Saying “I will get lucky” and playing Nintendo all day long, will not get you there. It will get you “somewhere”, but not even close to what you’re made for.
Feeling good, staying healthy, thinking positively — these are things that keep you alert and sound.
When you are aware that luck and favorable circumstances play a role in successful outcomes you take a bit of a pressure away from yourself.
People thinking it’s all “hard work” and they somehow can systematically affect an outcome, can easily go into depression, because if you don’t succeed, the burden is on you. “You are wrong” as in you are the one who caused the non-success because you didn’t “work harder”.
Knowing that luck plays a role, you quickly understand that nothing is promised regardless of how hard you work.
There’s a pretty high chance that we wont make it. Which is Ok, because understanding this makes us aware when it’s time to move on, or change our ways, or even position ourselves in a more favorable setting — You may go to a different beach, for example, where there are more waves to catch, better waves, and maybe less surfers to compete with.
My advice is this:
- Work hard towards your goal
- Keep a journal and stay focused
- Adjust your sails constantly
- Exhibit a positive attitude, because alertness depends on this
- Keep your eyes open for any waves and lucky breaks
- Don’t quit, but rest when needed
And if you’ve done everything in your powers and there’s no wave in sight, know that it’s Ok to wait, it’s Ok to call it day and come back tomorrow.
This attitude will give you the stamina to “Begin again” every single day.
A clean slate, being here and now, working, keeping your eyes open, staying positive, getting lucky.
This post was inspired after listening to Product Journey podcast with Ben and Noah, while interviewing Justin of Transitor. Listen to that entire episode here.