With St. Patrick’s Day happening later this week, four-leaf clovers and horseshoes abound as decorative symbols of that whole “luck o’ the Irish” thing of legend. Have you ever actually read Irish history? Lucky isn’t exactly the sentiment that I get out of the Emerald Isle. Perseverance and fortitude are more appropriate, but less catchy of a slogan for a lower back tattoo.
But, what does it mean to be lucky in your professional development or in your career? People may genuinely wish you “good luck” before a job interview or “good luck” on your first day at work. Is it really luck that you need?
No. I’d say that it’s opportunity that you need. More specifically, the ability to recognize opportunity. Then, converting that opportunity into an advantage for yourself. If executed seamlessly, it looks like luck. Ta-da! *jazz hands*
I believe that you have to be the architect of the circumstances—that opportunity is something you manufacture, not something you wait for.
I’m not saying that it’s easy. It’s not. It’s work. But, it’s work that may come easier to some than others. You need to be perceptive. Be able to read a situation and analyze it. You are simply problem-solving, with the end result being a positive result for yourself.
*slippery slope klaxon* OK, I know what some of you are thinking. You may find yourself in a situation where taking advantage of an opportunity may also be an ethical quandary. Let me give you an example from a legal ethics class I took many moons ago. We were sent a PDF via e-mail as a part of a class exercise. We were instructed to open the PDF and found that parts of it had been redacted. Ever the over-achieving student, I quickly figured out that the information was not blacked out properly. Just a few clicks of my mouse uncovered all the information that wasn’t supposed to have been seen. Thus began our class conversation of whether or not it was ethical for someone to read that information, when the intention was clear that it was not to be read. Oh, and I do have a point. (1) That I just like telling this story because of how quickly I figured out the redaction wasn’t done properly in the PDF and (2) Yes, Virginia, you may have to wrestle with your conscience every once in a while when presented with an opportunity. But, let’s leave ethics for another blog post.
Back to creating your own luck through capitalizing on opportunities. What does that look like in the real working world?
– It could mean having your elevator pitch or reference interview questions at the ready. When you come across that C-Suite person from your organization, you can make an impression on that person about how your professional skills can help with achieving his or her own goals.
– It could also mean applying for scholarships, grants, or bursaries to attend a professional conference or to win an award, and reaching out to past winners to get advice and tips from them or just reading past winning submissions. Something that other applicants are probably not doing.
– Or, it could just mean cultivating your professional network like a garden by helping to connect others and just being active in offering help or suggestions. Having good things come around to you that way could just be karma. But, whatever you want to call it, it just helps you in the end.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. – Seneca
May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light.
May good luck opportunities pursue you each morning and night.