I used the word luck for the first time when I was an inquisitive eight-year-old boy. It had a mysterious and powerful ring to it. I needed a word to capture the idea that things happened by chance. It helped me think about the the apparent meaninglessness of some of my early childhood experiences. Despite my excitement about it, the word was not well-received. Someone, I think one of my parents, said I must never say the word again.
They explained that the word came from Lucifer, the angel who fell and became known as Satan or the Devil. To say something was lucky was to credit Satan for that event. Shortly after, I heard the Beatles’ song, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, and assumed it was evil because it was about Lucifer. On further inquiry, it seems I was wrong about both. The song is an anthem to LSD, which I choose to avoid, and the word is not paying homage to Lucifer. Luck is not as dangerous as I thought, but we need a clear understanding to keep our thinking healthy.
Luck As a Strategy
A decade ago, I worked with a great team of colleagues who often pooled their resources to buy lottery tickets. They enjoyed sharing the dream of getting wealthy as a group, and I admit the social aspect was appealing. I considered buying in, but something held me back. Perhaps it was the warning in the book of Proverbs to avoid gambling and get-rich-quick schemes or the feeling that one must earn their success. I opted out.
Spending money to get a rare-and-freakishly-large windfall didn’t sit right with me. Good things happen. But it is better to work toward goals than to hope for a freak event to improve my life.
A Lotto Winner and Lightning Survivor
I recently learned about Peter McCathie, a very lucky Canadian. As a fourteen-year-old, he was on a boat trip when lightning zapped him. The odds of receiving a personal introduction to this lightning bolt were approximately one in a million. Then, after buying lottery tickets for a year, in 2015 he won the Atlantic Lotto 6/49. That kind of luck comes to only one in fourteen million players.
Whether you believe things happen at random or that you benefit from rare-but-purposeful happy accidents, luck has a place in your vocabulary. Mr. McCathie positioned himself to experience two unlikely things. He boated near a thunderstorm and bought lottery tickets for a year. In both cases, he was where luck could reach him.
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
— Thomas Jefferson
Luck is a convenient word to describe the event of a seemingly random opportunity crossing our path. Unlike many people, I don’t believe luck is random or purposeless, but it is unpredictable. The invisible hand of God guides our lives, opening doors and directing our steps. Yet we contribute hard work and a willing attitude. We must use all our wisdom and skill to position ourselves for unexpected success, even if God ordains it.
Position Yourself for Good Luck
Like buying a lottery ticket, when you work hard and develop new skills and abilities, you put yourself in a position to receive a windfall. Rather than relying on luck for success, we can bet on a sure thing. Investing in yourself will always pay off. You will become a better version of yourself. With growth, you position yourself to gain financially from an opportunity you would otherwise have missed.
No More Wishful Thinking
If you are human (and I’m guessing you are), you sometimes rely on wishful thinking when you could be taking action. Let’s abandon the idea of winning the lottery. What win do you want next in your personal life or career? When you have a moment, grab a pen, some paper, and your presence of mind and write down three things.
Describe what you want. (You’ve been awaiting a metaphorical lottery windfall here.)
Capture one attribute you lack that people who get this result possess.
Identify your next step toward adopting this attribute of success in your life.
Perhaps you want to grow but are unable to identify a growth opportunity. In that case, I suggest reading The Power of Ambition by Jim Rohn. I have benefitted from his wisdom, and I am sure you will also.
Do you want to be lucky in life? It’s all about positioning yourself. Your growth opportunity could be as mundane as getting a good night’s sleep by going to bed on time, or you could decide that your chances of success increase dramatically by moving to a new community. Sometimes a literal change in geographic position is necessary. Name the result you desire. Identify an area of growth, and take your next step. You’ve got this!
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