Sometimes We’re Just Lucky

Have you ever felt a pang of jealousy or envy when hearing news about someone who “got lucky”, “fell into an opportunity”, or got a job because of a perceived unfair advantage?

Are there any people in your life who seem to always get by, even in the toughest circumstances? Do you wonder how these folks seem to always…luck out?

I use many sports analogies in this blog, because of my certainty that sports is a tremendous metaphor for life. You might not be a sporting fan, and that’s okay. I will use a series of easy to digest analogies here.

I have a friend who is a sports junkie. He studies stats, trades and trends. He writes about sport, mostly to a smallish group of friends who share his love of baseball, or are consistently amused by his wicked snark. He’s smart, and he’s on point much of the time. I admire his savvy.

But my friend is constantly frustrated by sports success, and that has always puzzled me.

He has claimed repeatedly that the San Francisco Giants were “lucky” to win the World Series in 2010.

Of course they were.

I want my friend to be happier, so I am going to try and get him to experience the Joy of Luck.

The Giants were able to get to the World Series partially with the help of one Brooks Conrad of the Atlanta Braves, who committed an error that ended up helping the Giants win a critical game on their road to a championship.

It seems as if the victory would have been sweeter to my friend had the Giants dominated in every category of the game, and had won because they overwhelmed their opponent by being better, 100% of the time. A pure victory.

In sports, and in life, luck is an integral companion to an eventual win. Winning almost never happens because one simply did better or inherently IS better; sometimes, life’s ball just bounces right into your hands- and winners grab it when it does.

Without a little luck, most of us would never achieve anything.

The New York (football) Giants were able to get to the Super Bowl this year because they were a little lucky. An error by a San Francisco 49ers player in a semifinal match helped pave the way for the Giants to advance.

This doesn’t mean the New York football Giants aren’t good, or didn’t deserve to play in the Super Bowl. This doesn’t diminish their accomplishment one bit.

How did you get your job? Did you get the position because out of all the people who you were competing with, you were head and shoulders above the competition? Perhaps you were very qualified; maybe your recent job experience fit right in the groove with what your prospective employer was looking for. But I would wager there were others who were similarly qualified.

I think you got a little lucky.

How did you receive this gift of good fortune? For starters, you were prepared for the job and the interview for it. You dressed appropriately, you did your homework, you practiced interviewing.

You came in ready to play the game. Your preparation was key to putting you top-of-mind with the firm that was hiring. Maybe it was something you had in common with your interviewer (same college, same breed of dog, same love of skydiving). Maybe you connected in a totally human way with the human deciding your fate. Maybe the candidate with your identical skills didn’t mention her dog. What if she had?

The fact that you were lucky shouldn’t at all be an albatross to your achievement. It’s part of the deal-cherish it!

Truly bad sports teams get lucky once in a while, but because they are so flawed in so many areas, the small lucky events don’t translate into a successful body of work (a winning season).

The good teams get a little luck along the way, but their aggregate level of talent closes the deal.

It’s what you do with your luck that differentiates you from ordinary people.

I was able to reinvent my life and career in 2010 by working my tail off, being ready to spring at the right opportunity- but I most certainly got a little lucky on my way there.

I am beyond grateful at my little wisp of good luck- but I am making the most of the opportunity, and I have no problem claiming today I am a damn good teacher.

Envy at other’s good fortunes is very negative energy. It’s really a waste of time.

You can find a break too, and it likely won’t be handed to you on a silver platter.

Go find it, exploit it, and enjoy it- you deserve it.

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