In our profession, there are so many critical points in the recruitment lifecycle, where things that are beyond our control can either work for or against us. It’s hard to ignore the integral role that luck seems to play in contributing to our success or failure.
"If you ask any consultant how much "luck" was responsible for their success, they will invariably tell you the same thing: “you make your own luck in this game."
The question itself, however, is usually taken by any hard-working and diligent professional to be somewhat offensive; as the very use of the word "luck" feels like the question is implying they were not responsible for the positive outcome and that it was simply random chance that secured the result.
But what do we actually mean when we say that “we make our own luck”? Can we actually create luck or ensure good fortune shines on us? If the secret to success is indeed rooted in good luck, is there a formula or recipe for eschewing bad luck and more importantly, for attracting good luck and the positive outcomes we typically associate with the likes of serendipity or being in the right place at the right time?
Ironically the answer to the question that we are effectively asking is paradoxical, in that any solution that prescribes a set of actions, or processes that result in more positive outcomes we might deem "good luck" are not in effect making us luckier, but rather looking to remove luck from the equation. Wherein lies the rub, in order to make our own luck, we have to stop thinking about it as something that is a result of some linear cause and effect mechanism, which analytical thinking can proffer a solution, or for that matter seeing it as random phenomena out of our control.
Maybe the answer lies in who we are and how we engage with the world and the people in it, rather than trying to control all the possible permutations that the chaos of reality throws at us.
"Time and our experience, of both serendipity and misfortune, has taught us all to question the wisdom of having too much confidence in the power of prediction."
Take for example, the phenomena of the archetypal “dark horse” and that irresistible urge we have to identify who the most likely candidate to succeed might be, in any particular campaign or race, or how our instincts quickly move beyond the assumed favourite to identify the counterintuitive alternative, the one who confounds the pundits. Because let’s face it, if the world were so straightforward that every outcome was steadfastly aligned to its statistically defined probability, no such concept would ever have emerged. Yet, time and our experience of both serendipity and misfortune have taught us all to question the wisdom of having too much confidence in the power of prediction.
So what is luck, and how much can it be assigned to our ability to listen to our intuition and allow it to guide us? Our innate sense of our expectations being confounded, more often than not, gives birth to this contrary intelligence that seems to engage in the utilisation of some sixth sense, that is somehow tuned into identifying the often perverse nature of non-linear cause and effect, and some ineffable idea of what constitutes luck.
So if by definition we cannot control it, maybe it is simply a case of being in the right state of mind to be alert and perceptive enough to recognise the opportunities that come our way and have the presence of mind to seize them with both hands.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “diligence is the mother of good luck” and I would proffer that vigilance is its father.
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