“The harder I practice the luckier I get” – Gary Player

Do a quick Google Search for “luck and success” and you will see article upon article on how luck is greater influence on success than “talent.” One specific article in the Scientific American defined “talent” as “whatever set of personal characteristics allow a person to exploit lucky opportunities.” So that includes traits like intelligence, openness, emotional intelligence, creativity and the like. They also mention specific elements of luck, like your first name, the time of year that you were born in etc. It is a really good read, you should have a look at it if you are interested in this topic.

In the simulation experiment that the above-mentioned article is based on, they assumed that every person gets a mix of lucky opportunities and unlucky events in their lives. In this post I am going to assume that you have no control on the unlucky events in your life. I might be wrong, the law-of-attraction crazies would certainly say I am wrong. However, my post isn’t about unluck, it is about luck. The question I will try and answer is: “How do I get more lucky opportunities in my life?”

Roll The Dice And Draw A Card… Any Card!

I am quite a fan of boardgames, and most boardgames have an element of luck in them. Boardgames simulate luck by either having you roll some dice or by having a deck of cards from which you can draw a hand. Some of these games have rules which allow you to roll more dice (and keep the highest roll) or draw more cards into your hand. Most of the times it is a good idea to do that. Why? Well, because the more often you roll your die and the more cards you draw, the higher the chance that you get a good roll or a good card. This translates nicely into the world of opportunities. The more opportunities you get (whether you make them, actively search for them, or just wait for them) the more likely it becomes that you will get that one lucky opportunity that makes you successful. So: Maximise you opportunities!

Finding Opportunities

The easiest way to maximise you opportunities is to know people and be in contact with people, many people. Barack Obama once said: “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.” I usually don’t agree with politicians, but that statement rings particularly true. I firmly believe that most opportunities lie with other, more successful people. To quote the very same Scientific American article I spoke about earlier: “This assumption [that success comes from hard work and talent] doesn’t only underlie success magazines, but also how we distribute resources in society, from work opportunities to fame to government grants to public policy decisions.” That means that the successful people have access to the most resources and therefore the most opportunities. I am sure you would like to get access to some of those opportunities, won’t you? To get these opportunities, you have to do two things: meet more successful people, and build relationships with the most successful people you have access to.

Meeting Successful People

Some of us are very lucky, because we are born into situations where we are surrounded by success. Some of us have successful families or at least successful parents, which will introduce us to their successful friends. The rest of us though… Hmmm…… yeah, we’ll have to meet successful people the hard way. So how do we do it?

As far as my experience goes, there are 3 places to meet successful people: networking, community and involvement. With networking I mean that you should attend networking events or clubs. These can range from formal groups like BNI or the governing body of your professional field, to less formal get-togethers like a breakfast club or quiz nights at your local pub. Well the local pub idea can also be seen as an example of community, along with sport clubs, hobbyist get-togethers, and churches. I’ve personally met many successful people through church. Lastly, you will want to be involved with things where other people are involved, examples include participating in events or competitions and volunteering at charities. You will be surprised how many successful people spend time on giving back via charities, and even if you don’t find successful people among the charities, you will find people who know them and can introduce you.

Wherever you are involved, you would want to meet as many people as you can, and build relationships with those who are successful in the fields you are interested in. As a rule of thumb, you’d want to meet the most successful people you can, but that isn’t always the case. There are just a few things to remember: You never know who knows who; You will sometimes be surprised about who have achieved success in parts of their lives you don’t know about; The more successful someone is, the more people they meet, so you’ll want to network with the most successful people that will still remember you. It is up to your discretion to figure out who to network with, and it comes with experience. Happy networking!

Building Relationships

Seeing people at networking opportunities are a way to build relationships. It can work well, especially if you attend regularly. However, it isn’t the best way, since you won’t stand out from the crowds. You want to grow those relationships to a point where it is bigger than “the oke at the pub”, “this guy in my church”, or “this person at the breakfast club.” So, you want to invite the people to things outside the networking opportunity. You can invite your friend at the pub, to come to your place for a braai. The churchgoer might be open to visit your place for a nice Sunday afternoon lunch. People at the breakfast clubs are very open to have coffee in order to “discuss business opportunities” because they joined the club for networking in the first place. Every situation will provide an opportunity in which you can build the relationships outside of the initial meeting circumstances. Use your common sense, overcome your fears, and invite strangers to have coffee with you.

When you start building your relationships, it is vitally important to be genuinely interested in the other person. Also, be authentic, honest and open with the people you are networking with. If you have no intentions of building a friendship, but only want to explore business opportunities, be clear on that. People can see through bullshit intentions remarkably quickly when it comes to relationship building, so unless you are a narcissist psychopath, it is wise to be real.

People say that “it is not about what you know, but about who you know.” That statement is now just as true as it has always been, and it will always be true. In order to know the right people, you will want to meet a high quantity of people and then build quality relationships with quality people. When you enough right people, the lucky opportunities will come, and then it is up to you to grab them opportunities and build your success.