You’ve heard it many times: the very successful person who’s interviewed and attributes their success to luck, or just talks about being in the right place at the right time. But if it’s just luck, what is there to learn? And how can you access the pixie dust that seems to have advanced this person’s career?
What is luck, really? The odds of hitting a four-leaf clover on your first try are one in 10,000, but your chances of advancing your career are significantly better when you take intentional and proactive action.
While there may be career successes where sheer luck was a factor, if you look deeper, these are probably the rare exceptions. Luck is actually something you do for yourself and something you can prepare for by enjoying the good work and intentional effort that almost always precedes finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. sky.
Also consider that attributing your success to mere good fortune undermines your success. You have worked hard and accomplished great things and deserve the kudos and credit that come with the results. Luck may be something, but good thinking, hard work, and relationship building are so much more.
How to Create Luck in Your Career
Here’s how to create the conditions for luck to be yours (and efforts you can embrace and congratulate yourself on when you succeed).
One of the keys to luck is being ready and moving forward based on what is happening around you. Stay alert and read your context. If you feel like your company is considering big changes in your division, have a strategy for your next steps. When you see that your group can report through a new leader, contact them and connect with them. Or when you see your customers’ needs start to change, be ready to recommend a new product, service, or direction.
Also, always explore. Be curious about your market and customers, get additional certifications or degrees that match your interests, and constantly seek to learn new areas. By staying tuned for the next things that matter to you, you’ll be prepared in case your current situation changes and you’ll need to make plans for the future.
Statistically, your next job or career step will probably not come from your main network, but from your secondary or tertiary networks. By definition, the people you are closest to probably have access to the same information about new opportunities as you. But your most distant connections will have access to information about opportunities that you probably don’t have. And it’s a great way to make sure you’re “lucky” in your next steps, by staying connected to a network of people who will know about the new possibilities.
Reach out to others and strengthen your network anytime, even when you’re not looking for a new role. Focus on building relationships, not just increasing your number of contacts in a transactional way. Seek to add value for others and stay connected when you see people being promoted or changing jobs. Send notes to wish people congratulations or send articles that might be of interest to them. Nurture connections in an ongoing and meaningful way, and when you need luck to facilitate your next career step, you’ll have people you can reach out to and ask for support.
As you search for the next opportunity, your past and current performance will be closely scrutinized, and it will fundamentally shape your outlook. Recently, a co-worker learned that her husband was going to be transferred to another country, and it was the right decision for their family to raise the stakes and make the switch. As a result, she had to step down from her current role and look for a new role – and she hoped to stay with her global company. Because she had an excellent performance record and good connections, she was able to contact the new region manager and a position was matched for her. While she may have chalked this up to luck, it was actually a result of her reputation and credibility based on her solid track record.
Performing brilliantly in your role today (even if it’s not your ideal position) is still one of the best investments in your role for tomorrow and creates the “luck” that will be part of the next opportunity.
Sometimes when you need to make a change, the perfect role may not emerge. In this case, it may be a good idea to take what is available and know that you can move on. You don’t want to settle for something drastically below your abilities or a poor cultural fit or bad work experience, but if the role is close to the right or requires you to compromise on things that aren’t essential to who you are, so playing a less-than-ideal role can be a legitimate and smart move. It’s always easier to find a job when you’re already employed, and in the real world most people need to be employed to pay the mortgage and put the groceries on the table.
So go to the next step, even if it’s not your last step. Know that you can learn from everything you do and trust your ability to grow and progress. Also be flexible with your partner and family. Sometimes your work will take priority and sometimes theirs. The best partnerships recognize the dance of career ebbs and flows. Be flexible when your partner’s work comes first and be firm when it’s time for your career to flourish.
Career advancement often forces you to let go and take risks. The next big mission or time to leave an organization for a cool new job requires you to take risks. Be smart about assessing the opportunity and all that comes with it, and be diligent about determining if it’s the right fit for you and your future. And when you determine it, build your support, take the leap, and make the decision that will pave the way for your future.
The vast majority of the time, luck really isn’t luck at all. So put in the effort, do a great job, and flex toward the next new opportunity. And in the process, take credit for everything you’ve accomplished and be confident about all the places you’ll go next. It’s a great time to explore, be proactive, and build relationships that will move you positively forward.