As Luck Would Have It

I have been thinking about how much control I have in my search for success opposed to what I don’t have control over. For the most part, much to my chagrin, there is a great deal I can do. I say much to my chagrin because it means I have a degree of responsibility for my actions. I would rather just blame fate or luck. I tend to be laissez-faire—probably too much so. Laissez le bon temps rouler!

If you really dig down behind most success stories, luck was an element. It is the one uncontrollable part of success that is so vexing and drives those who feel the need to control everything either crazy or into denial. These people are control freaks and super fun to be around (wink, wink).

So what about the role of luck or fate in the pursuit of success?

In an attempt to influence the ultimately uninfluenceable, we often employ various rituals in all their guises, from working smarter (not harder) to being prepared (fortune favors the prepared), to knocking on wood or sporting a neon pink rabbit’s foot dangling from a chain—although the rabbit was never the lucky one. We make plans and contingency plans. We offer prayers and oblations. We make sacrifices and bargains. No matter, luck seems to be the black box that often has a big effect on all the work we do. There always seems to be an element of chance in any successful endeavor, a twist of fate that we have no power over, something that is out of our locus of control (I have been reading Psychology books.)

Even the casinos from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and from Monte Carlo to Macau know they can’t control luck; someone is going to win something, some of the time. They can, however, really slant the odds—and they do—and it works out quite well for them. They know how to set the rules of the game so the house is favored, be it blackjack or the slot machines. This seems to be our challenge in the face of fate and luck—to tip the odds in our favor.

So how do we tip the odds?  I am a big fan of the popular saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” It gives me hope even as I recognize there will always be something that will be out of my control despite my best efforts. It also reminds me that what is in our control are our efforts and those efforts can have a significant influence on what happens. It’s still not control over outcomes per say, but at least we can tip the odds in our favor.  We can have influence if we will put in the effort.

Being a parent has taught me a thing or two that can be applied to this subject of dealing with control versus influence.  If you are a parent, you know how much control you ultimately have over your children—that would be none. If you still have young kids and believe you can ultimately control them, just wait, once they get to a certain age, illusions about your control over them will be shattered. At best, you hope to have a positive influence on them, which has the potential to last a lifetime.

This is where I landed as I thought about luck and fate—we can do our best to influence it even if we don’t have total control over it. This means I really do have to take responsibility for what I do after all.

I can roll with that.


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