Throughout my academic and professional career, the idea of 'Luck' being one of the most important factors in business success had drawn up a lot of controversy.
This is because many successful business people and entrepreneurs, do not like to think that they were lucky in the sense that they enjoyed success through random chance. In fact, I have listened to numerous heated debates from those who insist you make your own luck, or that luck plays little influence when you are willing to work hard to achieve.
A typical path of reasoning is detailed in an article published on the BBC website, written by By Professor Richard Wiseman for the University of Hertfordshire.
In the article, Professor Wiseman ponders if people do indeed make their own luck, simply by being in the wrong frame of mind. This was tested by examining how people are able to notice or miss opportunities set out in front of them, focusing on those who considered themselves as lucky or unlucky. These results showed that people who believe they were lucky, actually saw opportunities more often than those who considered themselves as unlucky, reinforcing the fact that positive thinking while keeping an open mind tends to bring 'luckier' results.
A recent article by Oliver Burkeman for The Guardian, concludes that Luck governs everything you do. The article suggests that if you are born with intelligence, character, support or even money... you were automatically born lucky to have the tools to succeed, as a subsequent result, all success from then on was the result of good luck.
Evan Horowitz of The Boston Globe, recently argued that luck explained some of the discrepancy between the distribution of talent versus the distribution of wealth, focusing on the fact that not all talented hard-working skilled people are rich, explaining that luck was the 'secret ingredient'.
A well established expert and author in the field of business and entrepreneurship, Paul Burns, presents a puzzle piece of successful businesses, showing in no uncertain terms that luck holds everything else together.
Entrepreneurship and Small Business, third edition
On the flip side, Brad Smith of The Biz Journals, describes 6 reasons why luck has nothing to do with business success, stating in no uncertain terms that 'Successful business owners make their own luck by working hard, staying focused on their goals, and making the tough decisions required to grow and succeed'.
...and David Kleinhandler describes luck in his article, as the 'result of being open to opportunity -- something that comes down to attitude, not happy accidents.'. He goes on to explain that luck was a residue of design, and that your own skills of hard work and talent will lead to more opportunities opening, and thus what people may perceive as luck, was just being in the game often enough for it the work. This pays credence to the old adage, you got to be in it to win it.
These are of course debatable, and represent just a few examples of the discussion that rages on. Indeed if you did some searching yourself, you will see the endless articles of people arguing both sides of the "lucky" coin.
In my mind though, the 'luck' question is simple. No matter how much work you do, no matter how much talent you have, no matter how much opportunity you spot... you wouldn't succeed without a certain amount of luck.
My old business tutor used to say, you need 5 things to succeed...
Hard work, talent, right people, money and luck.
This maybe true and seems to be the consensus of many business communities, but ask yourself these questions...
If you had no luck, would anything else you possessed make any difference? would anything succeed without luck holding it all together?
If you worked hard for an opportunity, good people behind you, talent to achieve, money to back your venture... but no luck at all... wouldn't this lead to everything falling apart?
Because of this, Luck to me is a glue, the substance that holds everyone else together, and ensures your hard-work isn't in vain.
In the end, the debate continues, but there is one aspect everyone can agree on... everyone needs a little luck to succeed.
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