How important is luck to career success?
Harry Potter may have had a bottle of Felix Felicis, the liquid potion known as Liquid Luck, to ensure him absolute luck for 12 hours, but most of us don’t have the luxury of bottled luck. However, there’s more to luck than just chance. Luck, they say, is what happens when “preparation meets opportunity”.
Luck may be a factor in career success, but there are other more defining factors – talent, skills, application and hard work.
During his research, Professor Richard Wiseman, a public psychologist at University of Hertfordshire and author of The Luck Factor, found that people who believe that they are lucky tend to get more out of life than people who believe they are unlucky. Remember how Ron Weasley, Harry’s best friend, turned “lucky” after he believed he had consumed Felix Felicis, when he had not had even one drop.
Wiseman studied the behaviour of lucky people to see what they were doing that made them more fortunate. His research revealed the four “principles” of luck:
• Lucky people are more likely to notice, create and act on opportunities.
• They use their gut feeling to make successful decisions.
• They persevere in the face of failure and take more calculated risks.
• They work to transform bad luck into good fortune by learning from experiences.
So while you may not be able to influence “big-scale luck”, changing your behaviour can improve your odds with small-scale luck. Try these simple ways to create your own luck:
Work on your potential
A person isn’t always born lucky. Abraham Lincoln used to say, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Don't sit around waiting for the ideal opportunity to come your way; it just may not. Work on your potential – take a class, join an online course or sign up for special trainings. Lucky people add value to themselves by staying current; this keeps them ahead of the curve. After all, learning doesn’t end with graduation.
Be open to new things
Being agile is a critical component of modern careers. Adaptability and flexibility are skills that can help you spot opportunities where others may not see any. So go ahead, show initiative and take on that new task; learning a new skill will add to your resume and is to stand you in good stead in the long run. Remember, the only thing that can overcome “hard luck” is “hard work”.
Work on networking
It’s often said that “you make your own luck”, but for that you need to know the right people. Building your networks - formal and informal – can help put you in the know before things happen. How? Successful careers are all about networking, building relationships and taking action. Sharing knowledge and growing connections can raise your profile and bring opportunities your way.
Tap into your intuition
Intuition may not be as tangible a tool as a list of contacts, but it can help guide your career along the path you want it to. Life coach Jams Wanless, the author of Intuition @ Work & at Home & at Play, writes: “In an environment where we don't know the conditions, old rules and formulas don't apply.” So read the messages your gut is trying to send you and try to use your dreams to resolve career-related concerns.
Think big things
Employ the Pygmalion effect, where higher expectations lead to improved performance, to good effect. It is a well-known fact that positivity is the basic criterion for perceived luck and good fortune. When things go wrong, don’t think you’re unlucky for success comes to people who work towards it. So “pray to God, sailor, but row for the shore”. Keep dreaming big dreams, but build them on a solid foundation.
Luck always favours the brave. So at the workplace, face your fears and work to overcome them. Embrace change, be open to new opportunities, visualise the lucky you and stay motivated. And let Frank Sinatra have the last word: “People often remark that I’m pretty lucky. Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.”
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