Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lesson 27: Make your own luck.

Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.

What we call luck is the inner man externalized. We make things happen to us.
—Roberston Davies

Luck is real. But hoping for good luck to come to you is a poor strategy. And using bad luck as an excuse to underachieve is just as weak.
Yes, you could win the lottery. People do all the time. Somebody has to win, as they say, so it might as well be you, right? All true—you certainly could win—but you won’t. It’s been said that the government-sponsored lottery is a tax on fools, and that’s not far wrong.
Bad luck exists as well, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. In 1876, a candy maker with a fourth-grade education opened a business in Philadelphia; it failed miserably. He moved to Denver, where he failed again. This was followed by more failed ventures in Chicago, New Orleans, and New York. Talk about bad luck.
Finally, after ten years and repeated failures, he returned to his family home in rural Pennsylvania, disgraced and broke. With one more loan, he started yet another candy company. Using everything he had learned from his string of bad luck, he was at last able to pull off a success—a big success.
The candy maker’s name was Milton Hershey, and the successful company he started was the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. As of this writing, the Hershey Company has annual sales of almost $5 billion and the company itself is valued at nearly $12 billion.
It’s been said that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. That was certainly the case with Milton Hershey. At each of his “bad-luck” stops, he learned something that that would become useful one day. All of his experience and hard-earned knowledge contributed to his development of the formula for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.
If there is a secret to having good luck, it can probably be summed up in this famous quote from Samuel Goldwyn: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
You can make your own luck as well. Step one is to take responsibility for your own success or failure. Do what you love, and stick with it. When you suffer a setback, take away useful knowledge from the experience. Have faith, and keep at it. You’ll get lucky soon enough. 

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