Making Your Own Luck (Life without Limits e-newsletter June 2009)

Very recently, the first Singapore womens Everest team returned in triumph, having put five of their members on the summit of the world. While most people recall parts of the climb up and some setbacks, few may recall that the climb almost never happened. The team, despite having had more than four years to prepare and raise the six-figure sums to go were woefully short of funds with just six months to go to the climb. The climb, originally slated for 2008, had to be postponed to 2009. And still they were not getting ‘lucky’ with corporate sponsors in 2009. What can we learn from making luck on our journey to our goals.

1)    Keep your Radar On
Studies by Dr Richard Wise on luck showed that people who were sensitized more to what was happening around them were likelier to find people and opportunities that benefited them. Many people network, but few get results they want because they do not have their personal radar switched on for opportunities, contacts and valuable connections. In an unusual controlled test, he placed a five-pound note on a path within possible sight to see if people who considered themselves to be ‘lucky’ spotted the notes. People who scanned their environment( and spotted the notes) were more likely to strike up conversations with people who might be of help to them professionally, versus a control group of ‘normal’ people.

2)   Be Open to Propositions
Being open to proposals is a great way to create more luck. Many well-meaning people can help you. You just need to spend some time sifting quickly through who are the timewasters or those who just do not have the ability to help you meaningfully. This works much better than being closed to proposals coming your way, or dismissing possible sources of help. One of things that both helped and hindered the Singapore womens expedition, in my opinion, was that they were too open to proposals and advice from people who were lacking in credibility and experience to help them in the way they needed to be helped. A key question to help you decide is simply: “Does this person have the experience and past record to make an informed statement/opinion?”.

3)    Nice is Good, Memorable is Better
Being nice to people will help you get on at work and in life. However, you can go one  step further by being memorable, by what you say, how you say it, and stand out from the crowd. In making luck, I venture that ‘lucky’ people are often lucky because others remember them, and they are first to be recalled when opportunities arise. Best, be nice, and memorable!

4)    Do the Work
To get to the summit, you have to put one foot in front of the other. Even if teams on Everest rely on many paid sherpas or local Nepalese climbers to help them, they still have to do a lot of work. Part of being lucky is your own contribution to the journey. Rarely are there ‘free’ rides. When the Singapore womens team realised that the funding was not forthcoming, they rapidly increased their workrate in approaching potential sponsors. They left behind them a professional fundraising agency that could not meet their goals. A goal is a dream with a deadline. You simply have to what is needed to get to the goal. On the peak, when they faced one aborted summit push, they had organized sufficient resources to allow for an additional summit attempt. None of these measures come without additional work. David Breashears, the renown Everest guide and IMAX film-maker said that he believes people create their own luck on Everest.

So do I.