After I landed one of my first big deals as a sales rep my boss called me into his office to congratulate me. I was having none of it. I told him it was nothing more than luck, that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
I wasn’t used to closing significant business and I certainly was not used to receiving praise for it. My early years selling were a struggle for me. I questioned my abilities and my self-worth so I did my best to make my achievement smaller than it was.
Fortunately my boss was determined for me to see otherwise. He told me he didn’t believe in luck. He believed if you were doing what you were supposed to be doing – making the calls, getting the appointments, doing the research and listening to the clients – you would always be in the right place at the right time.
I was too young and too green as a salesperson to argue with him so I pretended to agree even though I still thought the whole thing was nothing more than luck. However, I did get the part about doing what you were supposed to be doing and that if I continued to do those things more “luck” would come my way.
You don’t get lucky if you don’t know what you want.
Like many things in life, a lot of us believe that luck falls from the sky like a leaf falls off a tree in Autumn. It just happens. What I’ve learned about luck is that’s not how it works. You have to know what you want and be able to visualize it in some form. You have to plant a seed first and keep an eye on its growth – enough to nurture it -but not so much that you overwater and overfeed and smother it.
You have to learn to let go and not get attached to the outcomes.
There is no doubt this has always been the hardest part for me. It still is. But what I have learned about luck – both personally and professionally- is that when I’ve let go of my ego and obsession with winning and went about planting other seeds – “lucky” situations were more likely to appear.
You have to learn to trust the process.
Greeks are not known for trusting easily. Neither are born and raised New Yorkers. So trusting the process is not instinctual for me. It’s a practice that I continue to work on.
Sometimes no matter how many of those “right things” I do, that seedling’s growth is stunted. I have to remind myself to trust there is a reason that is happening that is not yet clear to me. And trust me when I say, it is much easier to write those words than to embody them but having a belief in a power greater than myself certainly helps.
You have to stay open to the luck that arrives even when it doesn’t quite look like what you expected.
When I found out last March I would have to move after twenty-two years in the same apartment I had a very clear vision of what I wanted my new place to look like and what price I wanted to pay. I was determined to stay on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, yet no matter how much I looked, I kept hitting a brick wall.
I had no intention of crossing the Hudson to live, but I was willing to at least take a look. The first apartment I looked at was the exact vision I had – just in a different location.
What I’ve learned about luck is it doesn’t just happen. But it can happen. If you stay open to it.
Also published on Medium.