2 years ago
In this blog I'm going to be referring back to one of my favourite books of all time, "The Top 10 Excuses For Remaining A Miserable Failure." (Published by MadeUp Books - price £5,000.)
Because I want to talk about something hugely important, which I'm pretty sure I've never covered in any of my other blogs. It's something which is central to outrageous success in whatever you want to do - not because you need it, (or at least not in the way you think) but because you've been conditioned to believe that you do. And that can be a big problem.
Confused? Of course you are... this is one of mine after all. Allow me to confuse you even further by telling you a story...
A man was walking across the road when he had a terrible accident. The impact was on his head which caused him to be in a coma for 7 days. When he opened his eyes, his wife was by his side.
He told her through tears, "When I was struggling with my studies in University, I failed again and again. Sometimes I even had to re-take my exams. You were there by my side, encouraging me to go on trying."
She squeezed his hands as he continued, "When I went for major interviews and failed to clinch any of the jobs, you were there, cutting out the job ads for me to apply..."
He added, "...then I started working in this little firm and finally got a big contract. I blew it because of a small mistake. But you were still there for me."
His wife was in tears too by now. The man said, "I finally got a job after being laid off for quite some time. But I never seemed to be promoted and my hard work was not recognised. I remained in the same position from the day I joined the company till now. You are still beside me..."
His wife's tears trickled down as she listened to him, "And now I've met with an accident and when I woke up, you were here with me. There's something I'll really like to say to you..." She flung herself on the bed and hugged her husband, sobbing with deep emotion.
Finally her husband said, "I think you bring me bad luck."
I told that joke for two reasons. Firstly it made me smile... something of a rare occurrence according to some uncharitable folk around here... and it's a nice introduction to the real subject of this missive which is...
Like the poor bloke in the story, so many people attribute their lack of success to not getting the breaks - missing out on the good fortune which others seem to readily enjoy. If they could just have that one piece of good fortune, everything would be so different. All they need is a little piece of luck.
Now it's at this point that most 'self help' books trot out a version of the worn-smooth saying, variously attributed but originally stated by Stephen Leacock in Literary Lapses (1910)...
"I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder
I work, the more I have of it."
There's some truth in this of course. By working harder, it does seem that more good fortune comes your way, but it doesn't tell the full story, or the REAL secret of luck and how to attract it.
Let me tell you another story. There's no punch line though this time.
Two brothers supported the same football team. At the end of every game, the team captain picked up the match ball and kicked it into the crowd. Whoever caught the ball got to keep it. Both brothers wanted one of those balls badly.
The first brother turned up for every home game, sat in his usual seat, and watched as the ball was hoofed into the stand - most of the time at the opposite end of the ground. One time, the ball did come near him but he wasn't really paying attention, and someone a few seats along grabbed it. After every game he went home cursing his bad luck.
But the second brother did things differently...
For a full season, he watched carefully where the ball landed. He noted that 80% of the time the captain kicked the ball into the south stand, and that more often than not it landed between rows 15 and 20. In the close season, he spent an hour every day kicking a football into the air and catching it. When he purchased a season ticket for the following season it was in row 17 of the south stand. When the players came off the field at the end of the game, he never took his eyes off the team captain until he'd picked up the match ball and kicked it into the crowd.
Now let me ask you this...
Which of those two brothers do you think is the most likely to be 'lucky'?
Another story - a true one this time...
Magician Paul Daniels went from club turn to TV star when a TV executive in the audience at one of his shows, saw his act and invited him to appear on a new show he was working on. The appearance went well, and led to other TV work, culminating in Daniels becoming the biggest and most watched star on British TV for a long period during the 1980's.
And it all came about because of that lucky break when a
TV executive saw his live show in a working men’s club.
Well that's partly true, but then you need to consider this...
Daniels had a great product for the time - his act - which he'd worked hard on for many years. If his act hadn't cut the mustard, a club full of TV executives wouldn't have helped.
And he always had ambitions beyond the clubs. Even in the days when TV stardom was a distant dream, he had spent many hours studying books on TV production and camera work.
So that when the big chance came, he was ready.
When he entered the TV studio for the first time, it wasn't an alien environment to him. He knew all about camera angles, film editing and production issues. So that very first performance came as if from someone who had spent a working life in the TV studio.
And there was more...
From his studies, (which happened BEFORE his stroke of 'luck' remember) Daniels knew quite a bit about how a programme was put together. His original brief was to provide a 5-10 minute slot. To facilitate this, the producer asked him to perform two tricks, each of which could be used to fill the slot. Just one of these was to go out on the show.
For some reason, Daniels (as a newcomer) 'misunderstood' the requirement...
And used forward and backward referencing... something he'd learned about in his study of TV techniques. What this meant was that while performing the first trick, he made reference to the one he was about to perform later, and in the second trick, he made reference to the trick he'd already done.
So the producer couldn't show one trick without the other...
The spot was impossible to edit!
The upshot of this was that Daniels got 20 minutes of exposure, instead of the expected 10 minutes, thereby maximising the impact of his 'lucky break'.
Are you starting to recognise the true role of luck in achieving massive success? To spell it out for you, I can do no better than quote the words of Seneca, a 1st Century Roman Philosopher (you had no idea I was so ejukated, did you?)...
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
In my football story, the second brother had taken steps to maximise his chances of being given an opportunity, and then prepared himself to strike when the opportunity came. Paul Daniels honed his stage skills to maximise the chances of being given an opportunity by a TV executive, and prepared himself in advance to take full advantage the moment that break came.
Unfortunately, very few people have made preparations for the moment when opportunity crosses their path, and what happens next was summed up perfectly by Winston Churchill...
"During their lifetimes, every man and woman will stumble across a great opportunity. Sadly, most of them will simply pick themselves up, dust themselves down and carry on as if nothing ever happened."
They have simply not prepared themselves to capitalise fully on the lucky break they've been handed.
I don't want that to happen to you!
So I'm going to close by urging you to consider 5 questions which are very personal to you. The answers will provide you with an action plan which will ensure that you maximise the amount of 'luck' you get and the extent to which you're able to capitalise on it:
1. What is it that you'd like to do, change, happen? In other words, what is your goal?
2. What piece of 'luck' would you need to bring your goal closer?
3. What can you do to make that piece of luck more likely to come your way?
4. If it did happen, would you be ready? Is there anything you will need in place to take full advantage of it?
5. What preparations do you need to start making NOW, to be in a position to take full advantage of your piece of luck.
Here's just one more example which will hopefully bring this process to life for you...
If your goal is to get backing to finance your business idea, the piece of 'luck' you might need could be meeting a money-rich, time-poor businessman who wants to invest in someone else's business. What do you do to make that more likely? Find out where wealthy business people hang out and go to the same places. What will you need in place? A very clear (and fully rehearsed) idea of exactly what you will say to 'pitch' your idea, should you find yourself in the company of the right person. What do you need to do now? Find out where you're most likely to meet the right people, how you're going to get introduced to them, and how you'll introduce your idea to them.
Get the idea? Do you think you'd stand a better chance of being lucky that way? Do you think you'd be luckier than someone who sat at home and hoped for the best?
I won't wish you luck with all this... because now you know 'the secret', you'll be only too aware of the fact that you don't need it.
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