‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’
We’ve all heard this, and probably subscribe to it too. But, if it were true, every person we know would be lucky because who doesn’t work hard in this day and age?
The truth is, being ‘lucky’ comes down to being able to take advantage of opportunities when they’re presented to us. The people who are able to do this more than others? They have these five things in common:
1. They notice sparks
Not all opportunities are obvious. Many start as tiny sparks – an offhand comment in an everyday conversation, a random headline in a newspaper or noticing a problem you have is one other people have too.
Lucky people both notice these little ‘sparks’, and act on them. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they miss. But the people who don’t notice sparks are never able to act on them and their miss rate is 100%.
2. They have time
If you’re always rushing from one commitment to another, frantically re-jigging each day’s logistics on the fly as contingencies present, not only do you lack the ability to notice sparks, you wouldn’t be able to turn them into a lucky break even if you did.
Lucky people know the value of maintaining areas of ‘whitespace’ in their days to breathe. It’s these pockets of space that allow them to see opportunities others miss.
3. They look out for others
If you dig deep into the success most people achieve, you’ll note it’s come about because of their networks, (the old ‘who you know, not what you know’ thing). The ‘luckiest’ people I know have built these networks by doing things for others without any expectation of reciprocation. In other words, they simply look out for people – and they do it in a very genuine fashion.
This one relies on the second point above as well. If you’re perpetually over-committed, you lack the ability to both notice when you can help someone out, much less do the actual helping.
4. They tell people what they want
So many of the opportunities that can make or break our professional lives lie in the hands of others. But, just because we know what our hopes and dreams for the future are, this isn’t necessarily true for the people who can help us get there . The crazy thing is, if those people did know, they’d be thrilled to help us get where we want to be. So, tell them.
5. They’re effective, not productive
I mentioned at the top of this piece that everyone I know works hard. All hard work is not created equal, however. Many of us measure our output in a day by looking at the volume of work we’ve gotten through. Lucky people, however, focus on how effective they’ve been with the hours in the day. An entire day spent replying to every email in your inbox could be seen as ‘productive’. A day spent on a proposal for a joint venture that’s related to just one of the emails in your inbox? That’s not just effective, but more likely to lead to something really impactful for your business. Something ‘lucky’ even.