Why are some people luckier in their career?


“On a scale from 1 to 10, how lucky do you think you are?”

This was one of the questions on a job application I filled out years ago.  I remember reading it the first time and feeling very weird trying to answer it.  I believe in luck, but I don’t believe in all of someone’s successes being the result of that luck.

Many people living their ideal career and doing what they love are quick to attribute that success to hard work, but also being in the right place at the right time. But, it isn’t that simple. When you dig deeper into their stories it is not just the result of happenstance.

I know someone that does public speaking for a living.  He notes that it all started when he led a discussion at his small alma mater.  He says that by luck someone from a larger university attended and was impressed.  One thing led to another and now he speaks at conferences, universities and companies for a living.  It’s his dream and if you ask him about the story, he always notes how lucky he was that the particular individual was in the audience.

 But, is it really just luck?  Hardly.

That was not his first speaking engagement.  He’d been speaking at companies and universities for free or minimal compensation.  He took the discussion as a favor to a previous professor and wasn’t even getting paid.  If you ask him, he will tell you that he practiced that particular speech dozens of times before giving it and that was after taking multiple speaking courses to build his skill.  

It was not being in the right place at the right time.  It was the culmination of being in a lot of good places over and over again.  And I think that is one of the biggest takeaways for our career:

We make our own luck.

We are not just going to be discovered because we showed up to the right thing on the right day.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  I think it is awesome because it demonstrates the power we have in creating the career we want. 

We don’t have to leave it up to chance.  We improve the odds every time we show up for something.  The more things we are involved in, the more consistency we show, and the more people we meet, the greater the chance something will come from it.

We don’t have to wait or worry about whether or not we will be lucky.  We just need to show up excited and prepared consistently.  So, I think the correct question is not “how lucky do you think you are?”  But, how can we make our own luck?


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