At the beginning of my career, I remember asking my boss why, when the rest of us couldn't see daylight, he could see the light at the end of the tunnel and it was always coming from a rainbow?
“The simple answer is from a lesson I learned long ago," came his response. "The more you focus on the 'positive side of life,' the more you will attract the same things. The things we focus on create a magnet for our lives."
As my years since then have taught me, my old boss was certainly correct. Focus on forgiveness and we will find the world forgiving. Focus on the comedy life offers and our lives will be full of laughs. Focus on opportunities and doors seem to open.
On the other hand, if we focus on the drama life offers--well, the kids today have a saying that fits perfectly: "Just save the drama for your mama" because nobody wants more drama than life serves up on its own.
More than occasionally I have heard (with not-so-subtle envy), "That guy really seems to get all the lucky breaks." I typically respond with a question, "Do you think he is really lucky or just focused on excellence?"
The truth is that being "lucky" doesn't have much to do with luck at all. The most successful people create their own luck. They appear lucky because their focus and preparation have put them in the right place to make good things happen. The timing is never right unless you are prepared to seize the moment. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have all the luck? Maybe you are one of the "lucky" ones. In general, "lucky" people achieve excellence by focusing on:
- Forgiveness vs. Anger
- Others vs. Self
- Opportunities vs. Problems
- Gratitude vs. Envy
- Abundance vs. Scarcity
- Today vs. Yesterday
- Building up vs. Breaking down
- Humor vs. Drama
- Controllable things vs. Uncontrollable things
- Giving vs. Taking
To check our focus, we can look at how we spend our time. Is it mostly on the right- or left-hand column? Your answer will tell us if luck is in your future.
Lucky leaders are skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities. They do this in various ways. One powerful way is to remain open to new experiences. When people become aware of something--a problem, a trend or an opportunity to excel--they tend to see more of that thing. I call this the yellow car phenomenon.
When was the last time you saw a yellow car? You might see a yellow car once a day or so (unless you live in New York City--the land of the Yellow taxi). Now, for the next week check out how many yellow cars you see.
Since I have alerted you to yellow cars, you will probably observe many more of them than you had previously noticed. Is it because so many more yellow cars just hit the streets? Of course not. You just focused your mind on yellow cars, and like a magnet, you see more of them.
I first experienced the yellow car phenomenon when my wife was pregnant with our first child. Being the happy-go-lucky yuppie, I rarely noticed an expecting mother, but now that my wife was expecting, I saw expecting moms all around them. I thought to myself, "Boy, there must be something in the water here in Dallas?" Well, of course there wasn't. I had just heightened my awareness of the state of pregnancy. It was the power of our personal focus.
Excellence works the same way. When we focus on excellence, we see more of it in our people, projects, products... it's all around us!
Lucky people also expect good fortune. They are certain that the future will be bright. Over time, expecting good luck becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it helps people persist in the face of failure and positively shapes their interactions with other people. They do not dwell on ill fortune and they take control of improving the situation... with action.
I like what Thomas Jefferson had to say about luck. Certainly, times have changed but the truth of his words has not. Jefferson said, "I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
Open your eyes to the yellow cars of excellence and you will be amazed what you will see. Here's to a "lucky" day!