It Is Better to Be Very Lucky Than Highly Skilled
But it’s even better to be both
How Lucky Am I?
All my life, I’ve been told how lucky I was.
I was lucky to start my construction business to catch the boom during the ’80s. And I was lucky to get out just before it crashed in the ‘90s.
I was lucky to learn computers in the ’80s when few others were adopting the new technology and to capitalize on that knowledge when I left construction.
I was lucky to jump into stock photography in 2006 when the emerging microstock industry was in its infancy and ride that wave for 15 years.
And now I’ve gotten lucky one more time by moving my writing from a market where I have to sell articles, to one where I only have to entice people to read them.
But how much of that was luck?
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”― Seneca
This quote is over 2,000 years old, but people still believe that blind luck separates the successful from the less so.
Sure, some of it was luck.
Right Place at the Right Time?
Several times, I just happened to walk into the right place at the right time to earn a huge construction contract.
I stumbled across and mastered an obscure database language that a company needed the week after I closed my construction business.
Someone just happened to buy my image of fried chicken the day I uploaded it, increasing its ranking, which increased its exposure, which increased its sales, over and over.
Recently, I wrote two articles on dieting, this one and this one. The message was similar in both. I published both in relatively small publications on Medium. Both titles were well thought out, falling just short of clickbait. One has been seen less than 100 times.
The other is approaching 13,000 hits, has been my number one article daily for 3 weeks, and has earned twice as much as all other articles combined for June — and we’re only halfway done.
Luck? You betcha. And I’ll take that form of luck at any time.
Preparation Comes First
But you can’t depend on luck. If I could, I’d just go buy a few thousand lottery tickets and move to Fuji on the proceeds.
In each case where I’ve been “lucky,” there was a lot of hard work leading up to it. I wrote close to a million words before I got lucky with that article.
I’ve shot and submitted over 50,000 images to stock portfolios, a third of which never made a nickel.
I spent many long nights learning computers when there was no one to teach me, no internet to search, and very few resources available to teach myself.
And anyone that thinks construction isn’t hard work has never done it. Or even watched someone else do it.
Life isn’t a scratch-off game. You can’t just stumble around waiting for that lightning bolt of luck to strike. When luck comes knocking, you need to be able to recognize it and the skills to act on it. Otherwise, it’s just another could have been.
And, you’ll probably call that bad luck.
But it wasn’t bad luck, it was a lack of preparation. It was a lack of skill. Mostly, it was a lack of the hard work and sweat equity required to ‘get lucky.’
Having Any Luck?
When approaching someone fishing, it’s traditional to ask, “Having any luck,” to which you will usually get a negative reply. Even if they have a creel full of keepers. Part of that is wanting to keep a secret spot, secret. But part of it is the knowledge that luck wasn’t involved.
They knew where to fish and how to find the right spot to cast. They knew what equipment to use from the reel to the hook. They knew what bait to dangle in front of their prey. And they knew how to land the fish once it took the bait.
Man, they sure got lucky after spending hundreds of hours perfecting their hobby.
You might say the same about the fishing boats that drag a net around the water and then pull in a load of whatever they were going after. Luck? Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, long days learning to use it correctly and knowing which waters and how deep? Yeah, that’s a boatload of luck.
Cast a Wide Net
One way I have always been able to catch my share of luck was to always cast a wide net. When I walked into the right door at the right time, it was after hundreds of other doors that were wrong if not locked.
My success on a dozen or so stock sites was part of an effort where I have submitted hundreds of images to dozens of other sites that didn’t pan out.
By the way, the term pan out comes from prospectors who ‘got lucky’ and ‘struck gold’ after selling everything they own, buying transport to the Pacific Northwest, hiking dozens of miles through treacherous weather and terrain and spent weeks panning in an icy cold stream.
My luck in writing came after writing dozens of articles on a variety of subjects and submitting to periodicals, agencies, and content mills until I lucked onto the right combination. My luck has continued, because I write hundreds of articles a year, only a few dozen ‘pan out.’
So, How Do You Get Lucky
Do you want to be lucky too? Well, it’s simple.
First, learn everything there is to know about the subject you want to be lucky in. Then put in the hours, days, weeks, and months required to port that knowledge into experience. Finally, work at it. Hard work. Everyday work. Cast a wide net. Pull it back empty and cast it again. Do that a few thousand times.
In short, the proper order is: