What does it take to make luck happen? I've had a lot of luck and only ever worked in startups where failure is a pivotal part of the game. But luck doesn't just happen to everyone. If you think you were just born unlucky, is it possible to change that path? I'm here to tell you that yes, it is not only possible, but it's relatively straightforward.
Luck isn't about being in the right place at the right time. We are all in the right place at some point, but most people don't know it. So, how do we recognize when it's the right time and place for success?
Here is your six step guide to making luck happen:
1. Project self-confidence.
There's a certain amount of self-confidence needed to be lucky. I'm not talking about giving yourself a daily affirmation in the mirror. Self confidence is about really knowing yourself. It's about being able to look into your heart and understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Because if you don't know yourself, how will you know if an opportunity is right or wrong?
2. Beat back arrogance.
Self-confidence has an evil cousin named arrogance. Let's not mix up the two. The ability to say, "I know what to do in this situation" is not necessarily self-confidence.
There are a lot of people smarter than you are, and making sure you remember that is really important. Draw from the knowledge and take in the ideas that surround you. You don't always have the right answer and admitting that only adds to your self-awareness and confidence.
3. Make time for strategic thinking.
We get hundreds of emails a day, our calendar is booked from dawn till dusk with meetings, and we're interrupted with phone calls and office pop-ins all day long.
When you're so mired in the tactical, how do you find time to think about what is important to your business? So that when you are in the right place at the right time you can say, "Yes, that's an opportunity I want to grab."
How to find time for strategic thinking is really up to you. Some people block off time on their calendar to think. I find it hard to say I'm going to have a great idea next Tuesday at 2 p.m.. Some people chose to work from home to avoid the day-to-day distractions. I travel a lot for my job, and I've found that airplane or airport time is often where I have an opportunity to think, especially when the WiFi on the plane is spotty.
4. Create a life that produces clarity of thought.
I write down what's on my mind right away. It doesn't matter if it's in a task list in Asana or on a piece of notepaper. If I get all of my random thoughts out of my brain into a place where I know they're going to get taken care of, I feel much more capable of clarity of thought and I sleep better.
I sleep nine hours a night. People wonder how I get so much done when I sleep so much. But, I believe that because I get a good night's sleep that the decisions I make during the day are of a higher caliber than when I'm tired and I'm not thinking clearly.
5. Stay humble.
We're not always right, and we're not the smartest person in the room. Making sure that we are capable of saying, "I made a mistake" (even as the CEO) is a vital piece of self awareness for all founders.
You need to be able to say, "I made the wrong decision and now I need to undo it," even if you're coworkers told you that you were wrong. You have to be able to go back to them and say, "You were right." That combination of self confidence and humility is unfortunately, too rare in this world.
6. Patience really is a virtue.
I love the saying, "It took me 10 years to become an overnight success." If you went to almost any company you thought was an overnight success, and talked to the CEO or the founder, you'd be surprised about how much time, hard work and effort it took to become that overnight success. So, have patience and believe what you're working on then give it the time to ferment and grow, and to turn into something special.
At Techstars, we've invested in thousands of companies, and our mission is to help entrepreneurs succeed. Because we work with so many founders, there are certain characteristics that they all tend to have in common. They don't wait for luck to happen to them, they take the giant leap of faith and they risk it all hoping they will succeed.
So, get out there and get lucky.