Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" famously said, "Do ya' feel lucky, punk?" Well, how does one become lucky?
I was an actor and singer for many years. Not a common background for a businessman. But I learned a lot that applies to my life as an accidental entrepreneur. (I'd better, since I have no formal training in business at all.)
Business friends and clients sometimes send their sons and daughters to me for advice if their progeny want to go into show business. These kids almost always ask what's the most important thing about making it as a performer. My answer? LUCK. There are a multitude of truly talented young artists and, honestly, I find luck the key differentiator in their success. However, the secret is to be ready for luck to happen, when and if it does happen.
The same is utterly true of entrepreneurship. Successful entrepreneurs are driven and courageous. They are a passionate, hard-working breed. I truly love entrepreneurs. They are infinitely not boring people. But despite their admirable, if disparate, natures and work habits, I still believe the key element of their success is luck.
How does luck happen? In my opinion luck comes to those who are most comfortable in their own skins. Lucky people are people who don't pretend to be what they're not. Nigerian author Michael Bassey Johnson notes, "When you claim to be what you're not, you're deliberately killing opportunities, because those who would have helped will shun you, thinking that you had it all already." Luck comes most easily to those who unapologetically live and breathe their unique selfness. There is an achieved existential integrity to people who have luck. They are themselves. Becoming a real "self" is, of course, a life-long process, but it is just as important as marketing, business plans, spread sheets, technological know-how, and everything else they teach you in B-School.
There is a wisdom in the phrase, "It's better to be lucky than smart." Luck defies encapsulation and control. It is an ineffable and recondite goddess. But it seems to me it comes to those who are soulfully open to acceptance of fate's surprises. I believe it happens to people who've somehow developed an innate subconscious integrity that allows them to pivot adroitly and automatically in response to any happenstance.
For example, I was lucky one morning a few years ago. On the train. I bumped into a neighbor, a man I'd known passingly for a good while. We got to chatting about neighbor things and, quite incidentally, I mentioned that my then firm set up elite sales initiation pipelines for corporate clients. Well, it turns out my neighbor represented a major foreign country and was responsible for helping his country's firms penetrate the US Market. Who'd 'ave thunk it? The next day he had me in front of nine CEO's at his consulate's boardroom. Within five days, three of their companies were clients. God bless Metro North.
Napoleon Bonaparte talked about luck. In his Maxims he said, "When a man is a favorite of fortune she never takes him unawares and, however astonishing her favors may be, she finds him ready."
Thank you, Napoleon.