It’s St. Patrick’s Day – shamrocks adorn every surface, people pinch those not wearing green and everyone claims the “luck of the Irish” for a day. It brings this question to mind:
How much do our organizations rely on luck?
I’ve heard luck invoked on several occasions: “We’re lucky we got that grant?” “Our event was riddled with bad luck.” “We’re lucky that check arrived just in time.”
Is it luck? Hmmm…. I took this opportunity to look up how luck may play a part in managing our organizations.
Finances seems driven by luck, so I looked there first. In his book, The Success Equation, Michael Mauboussin acknowledges that much of our financial future is out of our control. However, he advises us to “…focus on what you can control.” He further says, “as long as you are doing the things that are in your control as effectively as you can, you shouldn't worry so much."
In business, Jim Collins (Great by Choice) examined a phenomenon he called “Return on Luck” (ROL). He says that the ability to achieve a high ROL at pivotal moments was largely a matter of considering whether an opportunity should be allowed to disrupt an organization’s plans. Those with high ROL recognized good fortune and pounced. Those with low ROL had just as much good fortune but frittered it away. They failed for a lack of execution.
So what are we to do? Richard Wiseman (The Luck Factor) sets forth these four principles for creating good fortune in life and career.
- Maximize chance opportunities (notice and act upon these opportunities)
- Listen to your lucky hunches (engage calming practices to boost your intuitive abilities)
- Expect good fortune (expectation heightens your awareness; sharpens intuition)
- Turn bad luck into good (imagine how things could have been worse)
Perhaps it comes down to a phrase that I’ve carried with me for many years: “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Do well and keep your eyes open.