For St. Pat: You should make your own luck
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, acknowledge that you’re not a leprechaun and that you have to create your own luck. Sure, luck can make or break a career, but those who make their own luck can make their careers shine. St. Patrick's Day is a great day to assess where you stand in the lucky-person parade.
1. Being lucky is a way of looking at the world.
You can look back on your life and see the luck in it or see the failure. But all good interviewers know that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. They want to know about your successes, so why doom yourself from the start? View yourself as having led a charmed life, and you will find yourself becoming the recipient of more lucky charms. Optimists know this intuitively. Our lives unfold the way we see them. If you expect bad things to happen, they will. But if you expect good luck, it likely will come your way.
2. Know what luck looks like
The luckiest people knock on the door of opportunity, and it opens. Throughout your life, though, you'll knock on hundreds of these opportunity doors. Sure, this is a figurative statement, but put on your metaphorical walking shoes.
One caveat: For this rule to work, you must be clear on what you want. Doors will open to you constantly, but unless you know what you want, you won't know if you’ve been lucky enough to get it. To be a lucky person in this world, you must have a vision of your life.
3. Entourages make opportunities for luck
You'll find more four-leafed clovers if everyone is hunting them for you than if you're searching alone. So invest in yourself by hiring people to help you create luck. An assistant at work, a cleaning person at home– whatever you need to free up clover-hunting time. Examine every task you do that does not, in some way, allow you to knock on doors that might open to big-time luck.
Delegate the luckless work so you can concentrate on your vision. Consider using the money you might spend on movies or lattés to pay an assistant. And every entourage should include trusted advisors– a mentor who will steer you to the good clover patches. Don't go picking without one.
4. Surround yourself with lucky people
Successful people have successful friends. There is, of course, the chicken and egg question. For example, did Sam Waksal befriend Martha Stewart because she was rich and famous or because he liked her? You and I will never know, but they did hang out together– along with all their other rich, successful friends (whether either is truly lucky is debatable and probably depends on your personal value system). And that's where the odds come in. Don't worry about why or when lucky people find each other. Just play the odds, and make sure you’re hanging out with lucky people now.
5. Don't tell other people they were lucky
We all want to believe that we’ve accomplished some great feat through personal skill and ability– not luck. If you say it was because of luck, then it seems as though we had nothing to do with making something happen. So don't tell someone who's just achieved an important goal that she’s lucky. Maybe she is, but you should focus on the skill she used to make the luck. Besides, showing respect and admiration for others– not to mention hanging around with a winner– makes you look good.
If you hate your acquaintance for being lucky, stifle that feeling until you get home and can curse and scream until you feel better. But remember that no one seems very lucky while jealously screaming about his or her neighbor. And don't forget Rule No. 4. Stop screaming and go out hang out with this person.
Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more. She penned this column several years ago, but she's busy with new things–- too busy to write new things.