Luck is Made

I have noticed a trend in successful people. Some of the most successful people I know, particularly those that became successful quickly, feel like they do not deserve their success. When you ask them how they got to where they are (which people always do) they typically say things like:

  • I had a door placed in front of me.
  • I don’t feel like I DID anything to get where I am.
  • I don’t know, I just got lucky.

My favorite example of this is the oh-so-brilliant Brett Kelly, who will never admit how freaking brilliant he is. Read what he has to say on his blog here.

In my personal opinion, this is a bunch of crap. Of course, it does make for great stories. It also makes people not feel bad about being successful when talking to others. But most importantly, it feeds the very American Dream of getting rich quick. People don’t want to hear about the 1,000 bad ideas that failed or the late nights and hard work it took for most people to be successful. They want to believe that they just have to “get lucky” and will sit around doing nothing, wondering why they haven’t gotten lucky yet.

I have had a reasonable amount of success in my life and when people ask me how I got where I was, I have two very simple answers:

1. If you put yourself in lots of places, eventually one of them will be the right place at the right time (which is how most people describe luck).

I tell this to my staff all the time. You will never find clients if you sit in your office and wait for them to show up. You have to go to Chamber gatherings, networking groups, alumni groups, social clubs, WHATEVER, just GO to SOMETHING. Do NOT give up. Just because you went to an event and no one called to make an appointment doesn’t mean it was a failure. It just was not the right place at the right time. But you did accomplish something. Each time you go somewhere that is not the right place at the right time, the odds say you are THAT much closer to being in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time!

Business takes hard work people! And perseverance!

2. Always say, “Yes, I can do that.” Even when you can’t. Then just figure it out as you go.

This is the one that always makes people the most mad. “But you can’t tell someone that you know how to do something you have never done!”

Really? Have you ever tried doing it? No? Then how do YOU know if you can or can’t? On top of that, if you don’t know if you can or can’t, the person you are talking to certainly doesn’t know!

Do you think I got where I am by being meek? Or cautious?


I got here by nodding and smiling at clients and bosses and saying, “Yeah, totally, we (I) can do that,” then being smart enough to figure out what it was they were talking about before the deadline and making it happen.

This is my “be reasonable” disclaimer. If you are trained as a dog walker and someone asks you to do open-heart surgery, don’t volunteer and then figure it out as you go …

But VERY few things in this world are that complicated and can’t be solved with a good network of people (which you made when were accomplishing point number one) and the freaking wonder that is the Internet.

So, the moral of the story is this:

Luck is made. If you want to get lucky, get off your butt and start making it happen.


  1. You’re too kind :)

  2. Geneva Carroll says:

    Luck is believing in yourself. An “expert” told me my quilt was awful, it had too much color. The precise reason I made the quilt was to use every color possible. Then, this same “awful” quilt was awarded national recognition for best use of color by a larger group of more expert “experts”. I was right all along. “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” HPF

  3. Point number two is a two-edge sword. While I agree – having built a successful business on my own taking on projects that on the surface should out of my depth – there should be some consideration of what you say yes to.

    I have more than once been brought into projects that our company had to save because the previous vendor said “Yes” we can do it, but clearly had no skill set, or access to the skill set to provide the service requested. I’m not saying not to takes risks – we’ve do that often, but you should be clear what your strengths and weaknesses are and when you should say “No”.

    Also, I’ve found that difining early what you WANT to do also helps in knowing what areas you are capable of taking risks in and what area you are not. I prefer being an expert that people rely in that a jack-of-all-trades that does nothing very well.

    Lastly, I LOVE your site! I read it religiously and have recommended it several times to friends and business owners. When I tell people “Business is Simple” they look at me like I’m crazy. After I refer them to your site they always follow up thanking me.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

    • I think your point about defining what you want to do first, so you know where you are willing to take risks and where you aren’t is VERY well made. You are right, you probably should not just have an open ended “I can do anything they put in front of me” attitude. But knowing ahead of time that you are willing to take a risk to figure things out say, in the field of accounting, can lead you to taking some good risks. I guess the unspoken caveat to what I said was that you need to have the resources or ability TO ‘figure it out’. If you don’t even have a clue where to find the information you need, probably not a good risk to take!

      THANK YOU for the kind words and referrals!

      Business IS simple!


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