I've never considered myself a lucky person per se. I have been blessed with a good family and a solid socioeconomic background, but I certainly wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, nor do I look like Channing Tatum. Heck, at 5-foot-6, I even have to carefully pick my seats in the movie theater. Still, somehow I have been blessed. Many good things happen in my life, even when seemingly bad things such as financial crisis or divorce come as precursors. Afterward, I have gotten on my feet and capitalized on terrific opportunities resulting in four best-selling books, a decent life in Manhattan, this column, and an amazingly smart and beautiful wife who thinks I'm fun and sexy. (She obviously likes short guys.)
Those who know me well are aware these blessings haven't happened by accident. I know several others who achieve success without the benefit of luck, and not just from hard work. There are many hard-working people who don't recognize and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them; they end up looking longingly at others' successes. Of course, many of these people aren't open to the possibilities right in front of their noses.
But if you've adopted an attitude of excitement and interest in the many possibilities ahead, and if you don't want to live the life of a wannabe, start using the five tips below, and watch the blessings arrive in droves.
Yes, I am one of those annoying people who will introduce myself on an airplane and converse with you. I am respectful of those who want their privacy, but you never know whom you might meet. My last four-hour airplane ride turned into my newest book project and a great new friend. Don't sit back and wait for people to come to you. Say hello and meet someone new, wherever you are.
In any conversation, the easiest place to identify opportunities is with other people's projects. Many people are swamped with work they are passionate about and are only too happy to talk about their needs. Let them share. Offer your own relevant experience. They will appreciate your empathy, and you will learn plenty. Just keep a sharp ear open for common interests.
If you show genuine interest in others, go figure: Most will show interest in you and what you are doing. Be straightforward about who you are, what you do, and why. If the person listening likes what he or she hears, he or she will continue the conversation and may even start brainstorming on ways you can work together. At the very least, if you tell interesting stories, he or she will be entertained and may remember you in the future when something beneficial comes along. My latest mentor came from an encounter two years ago. I waited until it made sense to reconnect, and happily, he remembered how I engaged him prior. Already new opportunities are sprouting from his connections.
The second I recognize a good opportunity, I always ask the question; "How can I add value?" Sometimes the answer is obvious and sometimes surprising. Either way, I can then assess if there is any substance worth my energy and effort. It's important to ask rather than offer or demand, given that there may or may not be room for you in this particular opportunity, and you don't want to offend in a way that may preclude you from future opportunities.
Sitting on the sidelines watching won't make things happen. People respond to people who take action. They want to follow those who get involved, so do. You can always pull back if you find the opportunity isn't right for you. Just do it in an honorable and honest manner so you leave your reputation intact. Once you're engaged, you can easily increase your involvement and make the most of the opportunity.
There is a common theme here. Lucky people aren't really lucky; they are simply doers with a positive attitude who constantly look for opportunity and make the most of any situation or encounter. These tips can help generate lots of amazing opportunities, but that's just part of the equation. You need to have good filters to choose which opportunities will result in success, and you need to pursue the good ones to their fullest extent. It may be hard to discern when you are overwhelmed with choices, but having more opportunity than you can handle is sure to make you feel lucky, indeed.