‘Getting lucky’ has some pretty specific connotations in Australian vernacular, but has much wider implications in business.
My old dad used to say “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. He would usually be saying it as he reached for his last bob while playing a round of golf, or chasing the bream off the beach in the morning.
‘Lucky’ has many faces.
Dad also had things to say about the nature of luck in business, things that have stuck with me over the years and informed the way I advise those I work with.
Luck comes with hard work……
Luck does come with hard work, but working hard to dig a hole will just get you a deeper hole, and sometimes that is not the answer. You have to be able to be selective at what you work at, and swap horses when you need to.
Luck come to the prepared mind.
This old saying is also true, and recognises that preparing your mind to recognise and act on the so called ‘luck’ when it happens is hard work. This work usually happens over a long period, and is usually the result of some level of collaboration. Alexander Fleming ‘discovered’ penicillin in 1928, his lucky observation informed by previous work by others over a long period. It was not until 10 years after later that is was turned into a product by Howard Florey, driven by the demands of war, and funding from the Rockefeller foundation.
Luck comes from learning.
It seems to me that ‘luck’ also favours those who treat ‘bad luck’ not as a setback, or indication that they should cease and desist, but as an opportunity to learn and build something better that sometimes, magically overnight after 20 years, comes together in a new way. Thomas Edison’s famous words telling us that the discovery of the light bulb was the result of 9,900 failed experiments says it all.
Luck come from seeing what others miss.
Then, there is also those who see opportunities as they emerge by, and have the sight to recognise them, and balls to act on them. Steve Jobs was a master at this. He saw a whole new world in combining the existing functionality of the telephone and MP3 player with the then unused touch screen technology that had emerged from NYU labs and demonstrated publicly for the first time in 2006.
‘Luck’ rarely just arrives, although it does happen. As a kid I knew a bloke who bought a single Opera House lottery ticket (when 200k was a lot of money) for himself on special occasions, and then won it. That seems like luck to me, but luck is usually a function of several of the above working together.