Thursday, October 6, 2011

Luck


There is no such thing as luck, in the mainstream sense of the definition.

I am a Big Brother through a mentoring program.  I’ve had my little brother, Tank, since he was 7.  He is about to turn 12 and I’m already seeing the opportunities the ‘tween and teen stages will bring.  The case managers at the mentoring agency have yearly surveys they send out and quarterly calls they make to discuss the match with you.  The questions range from, “How are things going?” to, “What area would you like to see him grow in over the next year.”  I’ve always found these questions challenging because I got him at such a young age that it really has been all about creating a relationship.  I am now seeing that this relationship will pay off because it will and is allowing me to speak into areas of his life as they come about.

Most recently I had the opportunity to discuss work ethic with Tank while walking around downtown Indianapolis.  He was expressing his dream to be a professional athlete and said he just needs to get lucky.  Insert Adam’s relationship paying off in a way of being able to give him advice and it be taken well.  I begin to tell Tank he can do it if he sets his mind to it and works hard.  I told him luck was simply the intersection of preparedness and opportunity.  He looked at me like I was crazy, but I began to explain. 

The best definition of luck I have ever heard is that it is where opportunity and preparedness intersect.  Here are some wise words from my father-in-law and behavioral health psychologist, Dr. Greg Sipes, along the same lines “Opportunity will inevitably come. If you focus on preparing yourself opportunity will inevitably come! Opportunity is all around you all of the time but you only recognize it and you only see the opportunity that is best for you when you are prepared.” That “lucky” fade away three point shot Lebron James makes or ridiculous half-court shot Jason Kidd made several years back aren’t random acts of the heavens opening up all the good fortune upon that one shot.  These shots are not luck in the sense that most take luck to be defined as, some random result or act of good fortune they receive.  The reality is that luck isn’t random at all.  The truth is you can find Lebron James, Jason Kidd, or any other professional athlete that we see at the end of ridiculous two or three point shots in the gym preparing.  Preparation and an extreme work ethic are what makes these guys professionals.  They prepare almost at an obsessive frequency for moments like the ones we see on top 10 countdowns.  They prepare because they know at some moment the opportunity will present itself to them and when it does they want to be ready.  The intersection of their preparedness and opportunity makes the general public think it was luck, but they know, after all the sweat, long days of workouts, and countless hours spent in the gym, they know it is not luck at all.

I have been caught on the sidelines of life at times in my own walk.  I have watched successful people my age and thought that they just got lucky or for some reason the universe favored them.  I have been guilty of betting luck on others success and burning with jealousy and bitterness because I was not randomly chosen to receive this good luck.  I hear folks all the time pensively considering others good fortune and wonder, “Why not me?”  They expend this great amount of energy trying to decipher some code or figure out how they can get lucky when what they truly need is simple and just a change of definition and perspective.  There is no such thing as luck according to the definition I’m using as my base-line of thought.  There is no randomness. Opportunities present themselves based on the preparation you put in. Opportunities are inevitable and they will come, but only those prepared will seize them and succeed or progress where they desire.  If my generation spent more time preparing for the inevitable truth that opportunity will pass them by I can guarantee we would be full of success and fulfillment.  When our eyes open each morning we have the choice to prepare ourselves for what will come, even if we don’t know just what that opportunity will be.  If we prepare enough we will see opportunities and ultimately see opportunities that we are prepared for.

Again, there is no such thing as luck, only preparedness and opportunity clashing.  The truth of the matter is that you make your own luck.  Lebron James has the satisfaction of knowing after seeing and hearing all the naysayers that he is where he is because of his hard work and preparation.  It is my desire to see more and more of us, you and me, have this same sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, the satisfaction that we aren’t lucky, but prepared.

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