Have you ever wondered why some people always seem to be lucky? Whatever they do, they succeed. Sometimes without even trying. Do they have a lucky star, or do they make their own luck? And if they make their own luck, how do they do it?
I recently attended a networking event called Cambridge Pitch & Mix. Every Thursday morning, local business owners and entrepreneurs meet in a café in Cambridge, UK, to discuss business topics. The chosen topic for that particular morning was: “How can you make your own luck?” Here are some of the ideas that came up during the discussion:
Filters – There’s so much going on around us that it isn’t possible for us to process all that information consciously. We wouldn’t be able to function properly if we did. So the mind uses “filters” and only focuses on information that it believes is relevant to us, and ignores the rest.
The first car I bought was a red Fiesta. I’d never spent so much money before, so I wanted to make sure it was the right choice. It took me several days to decide whether to buy it or not, and during those few days I spotted red Fiestas everywhere. There were so many of them! Where did they all suddenly come from? Of course, they’d always been there, but that piece of information was irrelevant to me, so my mind filtered them out until I thought about buying one.
The same goes for opportunities. If you focus on the things you want in your life, it will be a lot easier for you to spot opportunities. If instead you focus on the things you don’t want, that’s what you’re going to see. So luck could simply be a matter of choosing the right “filters”.
Prototyping – Some of us go into projects without taking the time to properly measure the risks, or even our chances of success. If we invest everything into a project that’s doomed to fail, we’ll lose everything. The best way to avoid this is to start small and test the ground.
Silicon Valley design innovators Bill Burnett and Dave Evans taught their students at Stanford University how to apply “Design Thinking” to their lives and create “experience prototypes” to help them decide what direction to take next, one step at a time.
An experience prototype could be working in a restaurant for a few weeks before deciding to open your own restaurant, to see if the reality matches the dream. Bill Burnett’s and Dave Evans’ techniques are described in detail in their book: Designing Your Life.
Hard work – The fact that it looks easy, doesn’t mean that it is. In the vast majority of cases, success is the result of hard work. Some people are just good at making it look effortless. Any sports or business personality biography will show what it takes to reach the top. And if luck played any part in their success, it’s only because everything else was in place.
Towards the end of the discussion, one of the participants shared an interesting acronym: L.U.C.K.
Location – Luck is often described as “being in the right place at the right time”. While it may not always be possible for us to choose the right time, we still have much control over where we choose to be. This can be a geographical location, or places where our business needs to be visible (networking events, adverts, online presence, etc.).
How does your geographical location currently affect your business? How can this be improved?
Where do you need to be seen?
Understanding of opportunities – Being able to spot needs and gaps in the market puts us at a serious advantage. Understanding how these gaps can be filled and how to position products and services is essential, whatever the nature of your business.
What needs can you see emerging in the market?
How can you fulfill these needs?
Connections – “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Sadly, there is a lot of truth in this, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Opportunities to network and connect are endless nowadays. This informal Meetup group in Cambridge is a prime example.
Who do you need to add to your list of contacts?
Where can you meet them? How can you get in touch?
Knowledge – Of course it’s about what you know! Without sound knowledge of the skills that are required to fulfill your clients’ needs, you can’t go very far. Hard skills are vital, soft skills play an essential part too.
How can you improve your skills / acquire new ones?
Who can you learn from?
So there you have it! This is how a group of business people in Cambridge believe you can make your own luck. “But don’t dismiss randomness”, one of the participants said. “There’s also power in serendipity.”
As a performance coach, my role is to help my clients make their own luck. I do this by helping them think clearly and efficiently. We start by making their goals or targets as specific as possible, as a way of ensuring that the right “filters” are in place. We then discuss the reality of their situation, and lift every stone until we find what needs to be changed, improved or added. The insights gained from this work help my clients make better decisions, and therefore increase their chances of success.
I’ve created my own Meetup group to introduce coaching to local professionals and business people. If you live in or around Cambridge and would like to know more about my work, please join us here.
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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@kikii