And when I think realistically about it, luck had a lot to do with our being together. How we met, fell in love and eventually got married was a chain of events that began with an incident that turns out to be one of the luckiest things that ever happened to me.
It began over 20 years ago, when I was busy speaking and consulting. I got a call from a friend who was working for a large consulting firm.
“An association of retired CEOs is chartering a cruise ship,” he said. “They want to travel around the Caribbean for nine days combining fun and education. They want us to do a program, but they don’t want to pay for it. My company is passing. Do you want the gig? You’ll only have to present for an hour. Other than that, just enjoy the cruise. And you’ll meet people who could bring you some business.”
This wasn't an easy choice for me. I'd be away from work for ten days, and I'd receive no fee. There was a possible quid pro quo - I might meet a few well-connected former executives who could eventually bring me some business. After a long, uncomfortable pause, my intuition told me to go for it. “Count me in,” I said.
Well, it was a memorable cruise, and they liked my program. I met quite a few highly successful businessmen, and one of them later became a friend and mentor. We helped each other on several projects over the years.
In 1991, my friend asked me to give a consultation to a banker who was advising one of his business interests. The banker was Kathleen. She found my coaching valuable and in return offered to give me a “best of Miami” tour that Saturday. We became friends. We stayed in touch, and five years later we got married.
So, if I had said “no” to this no-fee opportunity, I wouldn’t have met my mentor, he wouldn't have introduced me to Kathleen, and we wouldn't be married today.
It was one of those decision points that have the potential to change one’s life in a big way. Life works this way sometimes — a sobering thought.
It was a momentous decision, and a lucky one. This is not the only lucky thing that's happened to me in my life. I could name a dozen more. Remembering this chain of events caused me to reflect on luck. Because "luck," whatever it is, does seem to play a part in our lives. Good luck. Bad luck.
Luck is when something significant happens, and the cause is external to you. You had no control over what happened. For example, in Vietnam I was on a patrol when a soldier in our group stepped on a booby-trap mine. It killed him instantly, and it seriously wounded the guy in front of me and the guy behind me. I was untouched. I'm writing this piece right now because I was lucky that day. It's a huge deal, but I had no control over what happened.
So you can't make good luck happen. You can't go out looking for it, hoping you'll be favored with it.
Also, you can't always tell when something lucky is happening to you. You can't always foresee the consequences or how momentous they may be. My story about how I met Kathleen is a good example.
In order to enjoy the benefits of good luck, you have to follow through. You have to make the most of whatever situation the "lucky" event put you in. So once the good luck door is open, you have to walk through it.
And because you rarely know when the "good luck door" is open, in order to reap the benefits of lucky happenings you need to always exercise your best judgment, skills and personal strength. In other words, you need to bring your best to every situation. Otherwise, something potentially momentous may happen to you, but you could do the wrong thing, go down a different path and never experience the chain of consequences that leads to the benefit. In other words, good luck can turn into bad luck if you aren't the kind of person who gives life your best shot every day.
So when someone says to you, "Good luck!" you know that person cares about you. But you need to get real. You've got work to do if you want to walk through some doors that you don't even know are open.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .