The Science of Being “Lucky”

Everyone knows that one person who has seemingly gotten more than their fair share of lucky breaks in life. It could be the coworker who jumped into a higher-up position as soon as it opened, the relative who made a life-changing career switch, or an investment that paid off, and paid off well.

And it’s easy to look at that person who’s tackling big hurdles and flying over them with ease, while you’re diligent and hardworking but taking baby steps up the success ladder, and think “Man, are they lucky.”

Well, it’s naturally important to remain diligent and approach every job or task with a sense of excellence, but sometimes the difference between the “lucky” guy and the simply “hardworking but reliable guy” comes down to one thing – urgency.

Why Urgency?

To be a winner, you need to be excellent, but you also need to be able to identify opportunities and act with a sense of urgency – to understand the magnitude of the moment, and sweep in accordingly. After all, waiting for a “ship to come in” will always result in an empty harbor.

Let’s take a look at a couple examples.

For the coworker who was immediately granted a higher position as soon as it was available, there’s a good chance that as soon as they heard about the opening, they approached their superiors with a presentation on how they were instrumental to the company, and what they could do to expand the company’s profit and / or productivity in this new role.

For the relative who made a life-changing career switch, odds are that they prepared in advance to be ready, such as by learning a new skill — so when the opportunity presented itself, they could seize it before it dissipated.

Now does this mean that you should quit your day job right now and open up that juice bar you’ve always dreamed about? Not just yet!

Let’s Talk About Urgent Excellence

By urgent excellence, I mean we need to strive to be excellent in everything we do, but we also need to feel a sense of urgency — not anxiety — which motivates us to act.

Urgent excellence effectively comes in three parts:

  1. You recognize the opportunity: An opportunity is much different than a gauzy wish list – it’s in front of you, and it’s obtainable, and taking the leap doesn’t necessarily cause a feeling of panic or anxiety. A bad feeling isn’t a good start to any new endeavor.
  2. You respond swiftly and seize the moment: Opportunities are obvious. You’ll feel it in your gut, and you’ll know if it will propel you forward. Don’t hem and haw and look for all the little downfalls, because if you look hard enough, you’ll surely find them with any new change. Instead, grab hold, and use your sense of excellence and diligence to go forward.
  3. You’ll reap the rewards: Once you secure your opportunity, don’t slow down – your hard work and diligence is what connected you with the opportunity in the first place, and it’s what will transform an opportunity into a success story that your friends will someday deem “lucky.”

As in our example above about the prepared relative — most successful people who seem “lucky” worked hard to prepare themselves so when #1 happens (recognition of the opportunity), they are in a position to be able to act on it — and act with urgency.

As Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

And while sometimes an opportunity will be crystal clear, like your dream job opening up at work, occasionally it can be a little hard to recognize. In our next post, we’ll talk about how to find those opportunities, so stay tuned!

Want to learn more about urgent excellence and how you can learn how to use it to achieve more than you ever imagined? I explain this and much more in my book, WINolgy, World Class Performance.

Have you ever missed an opportunity because you didn’t act quickly enough? Let us know in the comments section below!

Article Name
The Science of Being “Lucky”
It may seem that some people have all the luck, but in reality, they know how to recognize an opportunity and when to act on it.