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Is Luck A Factor In Business Success

Mar 11, 2011

I had lunch yesterday at the newly expanded Mr. Lucky’s on 6th with an impressive group of professionals.  The sandwiches were delicious and the conversation was interesting (Thank you, Alecia, for putting it together). 

Driving back to the office, I was thinking about the name of the restaurant and the fact that March 17th is St. Patrick’s day.  I started to wonder just how much luck matters in achieving success.  So, naturally, I did a Google search.

As it happens, this is not a new question.  Going as far back as the mid-first century AD, a Roman Philosopher was quoted “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

I found an article on About.com titled: Do Entrepreneurs Need Good Luck? (Alex Rovira and Fernando Trias deBes).  They came to the basic conclusion that “In Business, we make our own luck”.  They found that individuals who were generally perceived as lucky shared certain traits (Responsibility, Learning from mistakes, Perseverance, Confidence, and Cooperation).

The Harvard Business Review posted an article by Anthony Tjan: “Make Luck Work in your Favor”.  The article breaks luck into three categories: Circumstantial Luck, Constitutional Luck, and Ignorance.  The themes are very similar, however, in that it seems as though what we like to call luck is really the result of hard work, a positive attitude, and a reasonable ego.

So the good news is that it appears as though with hard work and determination we’re all capable of creating our own good luck.  The bad news is that if you were counting on winning the lottery, you may have to re-evaluate (though you could revisit “dumb Luck” above). 

And if you think you might need a little help along the way, I did find a site covering good luck symbols for business.  As I scrolled down the page, I came to a section about lucky coins, and I was reminded that I carry a $2 bill in my wallet – it was a gift from my Grandmother when I was a child and I’ve never parted with it.  I can’t say I keep it for luck, exactly – it’s more of a sentimental thing – but I would sure feel unlucky if I ever lost it.

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