I don’t believe in luck. Good or bad. When I played professional tennis, I encountered many athletes who believed that luck could make the difference between a win and a loss or how well they played, how much money they earned—or the highs … and lows of a world ranking. And I’ve seen remarkable parallels to this mentality in the business world. Since I began my career as an attorney and legal recruiter/adviser, I’ve heard professionals talk a lot about luck. Refer to it, wish for it, credit it, thank God for it, curse the lack of it and resent others for having it. All believing that chance will intervene to tip the scales of career success.
But the truth is, luck is not the result of perfect planetary alignment or someone from the other side directing events or a magical trinket. Luck is earned. Through years of relationship building, skill development, career strategy, success, failure, crisis, perseverance, optimism and courage. And it is in this pursuit that some professionals earn multiple “lucky” breaks, others … less. But it only takes one to make the difference. So whatever your dream: To be GC, move in-house, make partner, come out of “retirement, ”build a $20 million book, transition to the business side, manage a team, make millions or rule the world … you better believe that you’ll need to make your own luck to get there.
So how does that happen? Below is your path:
Visualize Your Goals and Create a Strategy
Every career goal needs an ID and a strategy to get there. Otherwise you’ll be a buoy in the ocean. So what are your goals? If you don’t know or know how you are going to get there, your road will be littered with bumps, potholes and left turns. So be clear on the goals you’d like to achieve and write them down for reinforcement. Then create a multi-pronged strategy. Think of them often and visualize victory. Being precision-focused will help “luck” come your way.
Connect The Dots
Constantly review how all the little pieces in and out of your orbit connect to create opportunity for you. The ability to understand how the pieces of the big picture fit together is important for executing a successful career strategy and increasing your chances of being at the right place at the right time.
Stick to Your Principles
Well that’s obvious, right? It is pretty much everyone’s initial reaction in theory … when nothing is on the line. But in practice, it can be a completely different story. Throughout the course of our professional (and personal) lives, we are confronted with situations that test our principles. The context of those situations—and the stakes, influence our choices. For some, it can be tempting to take the short view or the short cut or hide because of fear. Don’t. Do the right thing, be transparent and communicate openly. And if you are on the receiving end, hold others accountable. It may be scary and there may be risk, but when you stick to your principles, you build a higher level of trust with others and enhance your reputation as a person of integrity. Does that directly translate to luck? I think so.
Maybe it’s a new practice area or industry. Maybe it’s a new way to develop business or present to audiences. Maybe it’s taking a class in an area of interest or simply reading more books. There are endless ways to improve professionally. The more you learn, the more you can offer. And the more you can offer, the more willing someone will be to give you a lucky break.
Be Great at Your Job
Superstars are lucky. Being great at what they do is one very big reason why. So commit to being great at your job. Be reliable and responsive. Work hard. Make sure that your work product is impeccable. Go the extra mile. Get along with others and excel at communication. Yes, it’s hard. But most everyone is capable of it if the desire and drive are there.
We confront fear every single day. And how we deal with that fear influences the direction we travel and the confidence we build in ourselves. Those who “find” themselves in the right place at the right time consistently push through their fears, take calculated risks and evolve. So strengthen your gut as part of your 2018 goals and see how courage and confronting fear translates into a field of four leaf clovers.
Work Harder Than Everyone Else
It’s been proven countless times that you don’t have to possess the IQ of Einstein to be rich, powerful or successful (au contraire). But one thread that connects all winners is work ethic. And in the overwhelming majority of times, these achievers work harder than most everyone else in their fields. Don’t want to? Not interested? Not motivated? Have better things to do? No problem. But then don’t expect miracles.
Be Professionally Courteous
The level of professional courtesy has dropped precipitously in recent years. The furious struggle to survive in the ever-changing legal profession has fueled legal professionals to turn inward and focus on what’s best for “me.” As a result, there is more bad behavior than ever. So if you want to create your own good fortune now and for the future, be responsive, invest in others success, show appreciation. help colleagues and be kind. Those who are courteous build great relationships and reputations: Two critical elements in creating your own luck.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
In a world where people achieve wild success and riches, it’s a losing battle to compare yourself to others. Someone, somewhere, somehow will always outdo you. So focus on You and your path in order to keep perspective and maintain your sanity. By doing so, you’ll keep envy and resentment in check and will also maintain your morale as you continue to move in your best direction.
Don’t Be a Sore Loser
Sometimes you win … sometimes you lose. You don’t have to kick your heels up about a result you don’t like, but don’t let setbacks get you down. Learn from them and move forward. People don’t give lucky breaks to sore losers.
Never Stop Building a Top Flight Network
People who have the best luck almost always have great networks they continuously expand. The better the network, the more likely it will pay dividends. So make it a point to include on-going relationship building in your career strategy. And don’t get complacent – networks get stale fast.
Life’s not all about “Me.” And the Law of the Universe will prove that if you help others, they will help you … and a lucky break will be born. It’s that simple.
Be an Optimist
Easier for some than others, but maintaining a positive attitude is critical for success. If you don’t enjoy the journey, what’s the point? Don’t let negativity weigh you down, instead, turn your ‘tude up a few notches … and believe. Everyone likes to be around the light.
Reaching one’s goals doesn’t happen overnight. And in the process, you’ll have setbacks and will face roadblocks. Managing your expectations accordingly will preserve a positive attitude and mitigate frustration with yourself and others around you who seem to have all the luck. Remember, they’ve paid their dues, too.
The concept of “luck” remains one that is widely embraced as results purely based on chance. It’s an easy target that enables us to put our blind faith in something we cannot control in order to avoid the personal responsibility for the pain and joy of life’s outcomes. Easy to blame for our failures. Easy to credit for our victories. But it’s a mentality fraught with downside on both sides of the coin.
A successful career is the product of a several factors including luck. But we make our luck … and earn our own breaks. It’s a process that takes time. But with the right attitude, perspective and actions, we can … and will all enjoy the good fortune of a successful career.
Best of luck!
Julie Brush is the founder and author of The Lawyer Whisperer (www.thelawyerwhisperer.com), a career advice column for legal professionals, also found on LinkedIn. She is co-founder of Solutus Legal Search, a legal search/consulting boutique firm, serving as a strategic adviser to lawyers, law firms and corporations.