Are the rich and successful really lucky or is it your influenced concept of what luck is that is making you think they are lucky?
Inevitably I see an article on Fast Company or Inc. Magazine with the topic on some rich and successful person and how they achieved such greatness and like clockwork in the comments section, the vast majority of the comments from the followers claim that the subject of the article, he or she, “just got lucky!”
I find this to be quite interesting that so many people think that someone’s rag to riches story is laced in luck! When I hear this sort of thing, I can’t help but think back to what one of my college anatomy teachers said about luck. He used to say that it shouldn’t shock you when someone dies but rather it should shock you that a perfectly healthy body lives! With the billions of biochemical reactions and the trillions of cells making up millions of tissues and tissues making up functioning systems and all of this working in perfect concert every minute of every day in a living, healthy body, I would say, you are far luckier than the 540 billionaires and 700,000 millionaires just in the US alone!
In today’s free-range platforms for comment and commentary on things from how offensive it is to use the phrase “self-made” if your sister is a pop culture icon to it being unfair when the idea you had of an online bookstore you worked on for 20 years change an entire culture of how we buy nearly everything with 2-day free shipping, it’s easy to have an opinion on how wealth is accumulated by one individual if you’ve never done it yourself. Oddly enough, luck seems to be the repetitive reaction go-to for most people when we hear those fairy tale stories of vast achievement. While understandable, the concept of “pure walking down the street and the heavens shined down on you, luck” in the self-made world is still synonymous with finding an actual pot of gold at the end of a rainbow in your back yard.
Here are the “lucky 7” reason you still believe luck plays a part in super success.
- You have been influenced by pop-culture on what it takes to be successful
When watching the Kardashians, the untrained eye doesn’t recognize the heavy lifting and work that is on full display during the reality show that has made them so incredibly successful. It’s relatively easy to think that living in LA and being pretty just puts you in the driver’s seat of the action propelling you into betrothed supper success. But watch it again, you will see the hustle and the drive to work even through all the staged drama. They are constantly traveling and meeting with new clientele, starting a new line of clothes or a makeup popup and tirelessly doing photo shoots and PR events. No matter how privileged you are (or aren’t), this requires work from you that most people are not willing to put forward. We get superstars shoved in our face on a daily basis and what makes it worse is we only see the candy-coated versions of what it takes to be a Hollywood elite or a unicorn startup 20-something.
- Your instinct is to dilute and delegitimize the term self-made
It’s okay, we understand why you do it, but it is important that you know that you do it! The more I tell my story of how I started out, the more people like to point out who helped me to make it to where I am. It’s a human instinct for some reason to look at another person’s success and try and break it down and find the back story of the rich uncle that helped them or that they married well or something that they can find that will help them to see the success of that person was more easily achieved by a means they themselves don’t have. They like to find that, “oh I see, it was easier for you because of…” moment or component of the success that will make them feel better about why they themselves didn’t do it.
This is called the “Bystander Effect” and we all have some form of it. It’s perfectly okay when we see a world-renowned superstar titan of business or a one-off “hit it big” person we read about because we don’t know them personally but when it comes to someone we do know, that becomes a little different. In fact, the more we know that person or the closer we are to them, the deeper the bystander effect is. The thing that’s happening in your mind when you feel the bystander effect is your rock-solid expectations of life are being destroyed by another person’s flexible expectations of life. We get so conditioned from a very young age to follow the path of so-called success that is predetermined by very influential people in our lives like parents and teachers that the expectations become very solid. When the results of those expectations are average at best, we look at those people that did not follow the same rules and see their success is more than our own, we look for that “they got lucky” component.
While it is true that nearly none of the worlds super successful did it all on their own, the average person either doesn’t realize or ignores the fact that the help from others that the successful person received was done by them asking for the help, instructing the help or hiring the help by the means of being the first one to take action in their endeavors. Thus, resulting in them being – self-made.
- For the successful, winning at everything is the only option… but to you, it looks like luck.
The successful take even the most everyday mundane things and make it into a competition. Today I find myself looking for ways to sharpen my competitive skills now more than when I played high school basketball! Whether it’s beating your siblings at who’s the favorite child to crushing your fiercest business competitor, we have to win at everything and we take losing personnel! Winning is a habitual habit for the type-A alpha person and the need for the dopamine hit to their brain and adrenaline-laced blood rush to their muscles they get from being the best can only be compared to drug addiction. This winning drug addiction becomes a continual quest that they themselves will put on display like life-trophies through action rather than talk. Action speaks louder than words and the only talk that the Type-A uses is maybe a little smack to get a good game going!
The successful are only looking to create action of some kind for the reason to see if they can concur it and be the best at it. Oh, sure they lose the game from time to time and will inevitably have a stroke of “bad luck” but the need for a successful end result is so insatiable to them that they didn’t even notice that you… didn’t notice their misfortunes in getting there! With that said, they are confused about why you think it was luck when they have failed at more things than you have! It becomes slide-of-hand and the magician’s prestige that you noticed rather than all the voracious preparation, the heartbreak and the heavy lifting that went on behind the curtain. The view from the bystander seat, – looks like luck. (Notice, I said nothing about money, only concurring through action)
- You don’t know that everyone can have the same luck as the lucky do
While most University economics professors are backing the notion and spending vast amounts of money on research (that are only resulting in abysmal findings at best) that the super successful are just getting lucky, one Stanford University professor has a different theory. Tina Seelig, Professor of the Practice in the Department of Management Science and Engineering has come up with a much better explanation of why some people are vastly more successful than others. Professor Seelig agrees in part that in fact, it is luck that makes people very successful but she puts a twist on it by comparing ‘luck’ to the wind! Professor Seelig states that luck in life is just like the wind. You just never know which direction it’s coming from or where it’s headed to and it comes in a variety of strengths. Some winds are calm and some are very strong but not matter which, its most people’s reaction to get out of the wind or hunker down. While on the other side, a few people are building sails to catch the luck winds and ride success it brings. The point is, what looks like a storm to most people is in actuality opportunity to others and those that recognize those “trade winds” of opportunity are building structures to harness it and use it as a power source for their vehicles to success. Luck is free power, like getting free gasoline for your car, – you just have to build the car!
- You have compared your experience with failure to the successful person’s experience with failure.
I had an employee working for me once that said if we do it his way, it would make me a rich man. That sounded great to me so we did it his way. When all the receipts were tallied at the end of the year, I could see that I was far from a rich man from his way of doing it. When I showed him the accounts for the year and asked him why it didn’t work, he replied, “What do mean it didn’t work, look at all that money!” I just smiled at him and stopped the meeting right there. I lied to his face by saying, “You’re right! This does look good” and I thanked him for his advice. After he left my office and went back to work, I could see that my idea of success is much different than most people’s idea of success. The very same thing can be said for my ideas of failure. If I were to have called him into the office and said that we were closing down the business rather than “Thanks for coming in”, he would have seen it as if I failed.
Most people see failure as a means to an end but the successful see it as a means to another opportunity because winning is everything to the successful. I like what Tim Grover (Michael Jordon’s personal trainer) says about it. He says that when someone calls you a failure or says that you failed at something, what they really mean is that if they were in that position, they would feel like a failure.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that failing to the successful are actually an immense amount of good fortune. I have never failed at something, like school, life or my businesses, that haven’t later resulted in a ton of good luck and vast fortune as a direct result of the failure. Most people only see the good fortunes and success that comes from those unseen failures and chalk it up to good luck!
- You don’t know that we want competition and we like it that business is hard
The successful are a born masochist. They like the pain and soreness of battle fought on the economic battlegrounds because it challenges them and they like to find ways to break the rules do independent things. Business and achievement of any kind need to have someone to chase and someone to be chasing them in order for there to be any sense of achievement that is worth the time. I have crushed so many competitors in my life that I’m not having any fun anymore half the time! Business and achievement have to be fun and not boring to achieve that greatness or it becomes everyday life like normal people.
Most people are intimidated by competition, especially in the business world. I’ve seen some of my colleague’s whimper at the thought of a new company coming in as taking some space up in the market and I’ve even heard some of my former employees bitch about other companies taking our work. I tell them to don their battle armor because a good fight is a hell of a lot of fun and there are no laws or regulations against us being better, stronger, more innovative or more creative than our competitor. The best thing about competition is you can make it totally unfair when beating them this way and there’s nothing more fun about business than crushing a worthy foe with your boot heel on their throat!
You might read that and think I’m some kind of evil dictator or a bloodthirsty predator of business. Well, you would be right but understand that this kind of battle is not really violent. It’s played like a sophisticated game of chess. Just the other day I took my employees out to lunch and we saw one of our competitor companies out to the same restaurant for lunch. I came over and said hi to the owner and all of his employees and as they were about to leave I swiped the check of their table. I went back to our table and the owner chased me down and said he would pay for his lunch. I told him to leave and his money was no good there. He and his employees thanked me for the lunch and left with appreciation. I, on the other hand, had just made a major power move that said to them, “I like you but remember that I’m the king of this industry and I’m allowing you to stay in business!” To you, it looks like luck that no one competes with me and I have the market space basically all to myself. You probably think it’s my dad’s money or my father-in-law has lifted me up to this point that looks like luck but in reality, I’m fighting for this position all on my own and I do it every minute of every day whether it’s buying a competitors lunch or showing a customer that we are better than all the rest. Daily action puts me in that “lucky position” every day. If you’re not used to thinking in terms of market positioning and power plays over your competitor, you might think it’s just luck.
- You don’t know that we do actually “fake it until we make it”
Have you heard the saying, “Fake it until you make it?” Sure you have and to tell you the truth, it’s an incredibly powerful way of achieving the greatness that has made me very successful! But I will tell you a little part about fake it until you make it that you probably didn’t know. I can still fake it until I make it, but at the same time, I face it until I make it! Faking success is wonderful because it uses you RAS, Reticular Activated System in your brain to trick you into thinking that you’re successful. When you feel and think you’re successful then you act successful and more importantly, you do successful things. Try telling yourself you’re a millionaire until you believe it and the next thing you know you will be soliciting a meeting with a high-valued client that you would have never thought about doing before! It works! But what works even more effectively is facing the hard things and, doing them.
Faking it in your mind and facing the hard stuff in real life is the deadly combination to becoming very wealthy. Back in 2013, I lied to myself so many times that I was a millionaire and now, today, I have a net worth of well over a million dollars of combined cash and assets. During all that time my brain didn’t know the difference and so, neither did my body, so I just did what millionaires do without thinking about it. It made the “facing it” part much easier. People say to me all the time that I was just blessed naturally with the gift to make a great sale and I have a natural knack for speaking and people open their wallets. They say I’m lucky I was born with that talent. But truthfully I don’t think it’s a talent, I’m just doing what my million dollar brain is telling me to do!
Daniel J Bockman