I had an interesting session with a client this week. He is at the very beginning stages of figuring out what his next career will be. He had all kinds of stories about why several careers he had considered in the past would not have worked. There were stories of low pay, no recognition of effort, no security, too many hours, and no upward mobility. These factors are definitely valid issues in many jobs, but this client used these factors as limitations. It was as if he put every job on a balance sheet and mathematically weighed the pros and cons and eliminated good jobs because of the possibility of worst case scenarios. By doing this he was eliminating the potential and opportunity that some of these jobs had and limiting his career search and potential.
When I looked at his list of jobs and picked a particular field that he had deemed as unacceptable due to imagined limitations, I gave him alternatives of what he could have done with that position if he let his passion for the field over ride his fears about the perceived working conditions. I found limitless opportunities in that career field. Surprised at my conclusions, he wrote it off as maybe I was being an “idealist”, while he was being very real about the potential failures of that choice. I laughed out loud and asked him if he thought that hugely successful people were just lucky and he quickly responded with the affirmative. Though this is a commonly held belief, it is the biggest lie we tell ourselves as a way to justify our own limited thinking. Luck doesn’t just happen; it is the result of hard work, motivation, and an open mind.
In his book, “The Luck Factor”, Richard Wiseman, PhD says, “Luck is not a magical ability or gift from the gods. Instead, it is a way of thinking and behaving”. He believes we have more control of the outcomes of our lives than we are aware of. In his work he has found that 10 percent of life is random and the other 90 percent is “defined by the way we think”.
Dr.Wiseman created an experiment with two subjects who were placed in an identical setting not knowing that the people around them were actors. The setting was a coffee shop. The first subject walked towards the door of the coffee shop and saw money on the ground. He picked up the small bill and went into the coffee shop. He sat down next to a disguised “millionaire”, offered to buy him a coffee and engaged him in conversation. By the end of the talk he had created a potential business plan with the millionaire and left feeling confident about his new contact. The second subject walked into the coffee shop missing the money on the pavement outside of the door and sat down next to the millionaire. She sat quietly not making eye contact with anyone and drank her coffee. She left and went about the rest of her day. In the same situation, two different actions created two different outcomes.
Though you may not hit a jack pot every time, the more you are open to situations, people, and the world around you, the more likely you are to be presented with opportunities. You may then get “lucky” through a chance or coincidental encounter. If you look at the world with the limitations my client talked about earlier, you will not see those opportunities and be setting yourself up for limited outcomes. So my advice: go out in the world with open eyes and ears and realize every interaction contains something new, even if it is just in that moment. But the more moments you have like that, the more you are increasing your chances of getting “lucky”.