Collins, one of the bestselling business authors in history, found that great companies weren’t necessarily luckier than the competition, but they did get a higher return on their luck. They made more of their luck than others. Meaning, the critical question for all of us is, what will we do with the luck we get?
LUCKING UP — A specific set of strategic moves that have to happen after a fortunate incident in order to carry the momentum forward
First, we need an awareness that what happened to us was luck in the first place. This requires humility and acceptance. Second, we need an assessment of what we did right in the moment. This requires reflection. Third, we need an accentuation of our experience to exploit the luck in as many ways as possible. This requires strategic thinking. And fourth, we need an application of the lessons learned to future lucky situations. This requires determination.
Considering luck has played a huge role in my own career, as wearing a nametag everyday has opened me up to numerous professional opportunities that otherwise would never have occurred, the philosophy of return on luck resonates deeply with me. Because it truly is a skill. My original theory on luck was that timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Which is still true, but there is a specific set of strategic moves that have to happen after the lucky incident in order to carry the momentum forward. As a case study, let’s take my signature story about the stranger on the bus who started a conversation with me, which led to his fiancée writing a local newspaper article about my first book, which went viral and launched my career overnight. First, there is no doubt in my mind that our conversation was luck. Two men from the same midwestern hometown happened to sit next to each other on public transportation in a pacific northwest city of two million people, and talk for five minutes? Who knows what the odds of that happening were? But sure enough, it did happen, and I accept that. Next, both of us were open to interacting with a complete stranger, regardless of any perceived differences, and allow that exchange to unfold organically. In today’s world where most commuters are buried in their smartphones, myself included, our interaction was not an insignificant effort. Third, when that man’s fiancé called me a week later, I did everything in my power during our two interviews to seize the live moment and deliver my story in the most authentic, engaging way possible. There was nothing accidental about what I shared during that time. That’s strategy. Finally, once that conversation with the stranger on a bus changed my life forever, my willingness to interact with people when silence would otherwise be easier, is much higher. It doesn’t mean I’m compulsively sociable, but you never know, everyone is someone’s someone. There are many angels of which we are all unaware, to quote the scripture, waiting for someone to take the first step.
That’s exactly how you are able to increase your return on luck in a variety of situations. Awareness, assessment, accentuation and application. Remember, when it happens over and over, it's not just luck. There's something else. What will you do with the luck you get?
Gain a greater return on your luck than others
Give your creative work a higher probability of spreading
Become someone to whom lucky things happen naturally and consistently
Open yourself up to numerous professional opportunities that otherwise would never have occurred