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Be Lucky

LuckyBe Lucky” was advice I gave late last year in a post reflecting upon the lessons I’ve learnt as a blogger.

“I’m increasingly becoming aware that despite the many hours of hard work that I’ve put into building up my business that many others work just as hard and are much more talented than I am but do not enjoy the success that I’ve been fortunate to have. While I don’t believe that luck is the main ingredient in my own story I am convinced that in combination with some of the other things I’ll talk about below it has been of real importance….”

I’ve been pondering ‘luck’ as a principle of entrepreneurship over the past few days and am increasingly convinced that someone should write a book about it (if they haven’t already) as it’s been so central in my own experience of setting up this business around blogging.

Of course other principles of entrepreneurship come into play – such as hard work, resilience (Jason C’s word of the week in this podcast), creative thinking etc – but in the case of most successful enterprises that I’ve come across there is a sprinkling of luck mingled amongst everything else.

My own luck has come in many forms.

  • Timing – I came across blogging at an ideal time when the blogosphere was young, uncluttered and still forming.
  • People – I kept ‘bumping into’ people who were willing to collaborate and who had skill sets that complemented my own so well.
  • Coincidence – Time after time I’ve found myself stumbling upon products and services that just seem to ‘fit’ with where my business is at – that take things to the next level
  • Chance Encounters – I just happen to have responded to the right email or comment in the right way or time that leads to profitable relationships.

Blogging is a lucky game. I was speaking with one successful blogger yesterday and he told me about how he can identify the exact moment his blog took off. It was when another well known blogger linked to him as a blog to watch after he’d written a total three posts. That other blogger had found him in a keyword search out of the blue. This happened on his first day of blogging and he’s had a dream run ever since. Lucky Guy!

So why do some people seem to be more lucky than others? Can luck be enhanced in some way? Is there something to the old saying ‘you make your own luck’?

Lucky Quotes

“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Luck to me is something else. Hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.” – Lucille Ball

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have.” – Thomas Jefferson

“All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck – who keeps right on going – is the man who is there when the good luck comes – and is ready to receive it.” – Robert Collier

“Be ready when opportunity comes…Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.” – Roy D. Chapin Jr

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.” – Brian Tracy

As I reflect upon my own luck over the last couple of years there are one or two occasions that do seem to just come out of the blue – perhaps they are true lucky situations – but most have arisen, at least in part, out of decisions that I’ve made that have put me in a position to be lucky. In essence – what I’m coming to believe is that there are things we can do to enhance our ‘luckiness’. In my next post I’ll examine some of these.

photo source

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Rick says:

    I think being in the right place at the right time plays more of a role than luck. Then capitalizing on that or moving forward and not afraid of taking chances on something new or unknown has helped your success.

    But none of that replaces the long hours and tremendous amount of work you have obviously put into your business. I think you create your own luck and when I here someone say how lucky a successful person is, I tend to get annoyed because successful people don’t just sit around and wish they were lucky. Successful people work hard, take risk’s and make sacrifices that most people don’t.

  2. Cary says:

    “Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.”

    Great, great quote…you know, I can trace my luck at blogging back to one quick comment I left on a post here at ProBlogger almost a year ago. I sort of remember the post, too; it was something about how important it is to use a positive tone in your blogging.

    Anyways, the comment I left [you might even remember it,] and what came after has led me down the most amazing blogging path…sure, since that time I’ve met lots of great bloggers through my own hard, hard, work, but that one little comment and its aftermath led me to almost all of my earliest blogging relationships — many of whom [like you for instance] have turned into great friends and allies.

    Its amazing where luck will take you *IF* you’re ready to follow it when it strikes…and run with it when you can!

    As always, Darren — another great post :D

  3. Russ says:

    If only my long hours work could actually get me somewhere. No matter what I seem to do, my blog never gets anywhere. Luck is not on my side.

  4. Mike says:

    Darren, I think your blog really took off when you started talking about the money you are making with it. I also find that the posts where I write how much I have made for the month with Adsense, to be me the most popular.

    I kind of confirms to readers that you know what you are talking about when you can actually prove your income.

  5. Adam says:

    It may be a karma thing. Be a good person, genuinely try to help people, and do a good job …. and the success just seems to follow. I’ve also heard “do what you love, and the money will follow.”

  6. Shaun Carter says:

    Everything in life comes to down to being in the right place at the right time, or “luck” as you put it. The thing that seperates the Bill Gates’ from the rest of the crowd is that when the lucky opportunity presented itself, he was prepared and jumped on it full throttle.

    So, be prepared for that “knock on the door” and success will come.

    Coming into blogging just as it was taking form is definitely a plus for you Darren. But, honestly, your content is terrific too. As much luck there is, if your ability wasn’t there then you wouldn’t be as successful as you are.

  7. Victor says:

    “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

    I’ve always like that phrase; it’s so very true.

    Vic

  8. Max says:

    I want to start an anonymous blog — think Ben Franklin’s “Silence Dogood”, the Federalist Papers‘s “Publius”, and “The Manolo”.

    The thing is, I also want to make Adsense money with the blog. Since Google will be sending me checks that I’d like to bank, I realize I can’t be anonymous to Google, and that’s fine. I’m not planning anything subversive or illegal — just notorious, fun, and profitable!

    Do you think setting up this project will be as straight-forward a process as I imagine, or are there some obvious pitfalls I’m not aware of?

    Thanks!

  9. Bill Peschel says:

    There’s also an ability to be open to the opportunities, a need to be aware as often as you can, so that, when you see something, you take advantage of it.

    Two cases in point. I write and edit, primarily fiction, but book reviews and essays as well. I spotted a newspaper item about a writing contest involving Mark Twain. I entered and won second prize, being a trip to Buffalo (no joke, it was sponsored by the library there) and $2,500.

    Winning took skill, but the luck part was that I was living alone for several months while working and selling my home in another state. Away from my family, I had the time to devote to polishing a winning entry.

    But I also decided, upon reading the article, to stop and shift into another direction.

    Second case. I used Pmachine Pro to power my site until early February, when they released a free version of Expression Engine. Again, I stopped what I was doing and began a furious conversion of the site over to it.

    Two weeks later, Pmachine announced a design contest for websites powered by EE, divided into three categories: Commercial, Personal and those who downloaded the free EE program. I don’t know if I’ll win anything, but my odds are good: there’s 14 entries for 10 prizes. Because I shifted gears when I did, I now have a chance at winning that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    Recently, I’m running Adsense ads on my site and committing myself to posting more. And part of the reason I’m doing this is Darren’s example, and some of his posts about Adsense placements.

    Will something happen? I don’t know. But I know nothing will happen if I don’t.

  10. Ben says:

    Luck has played a decent role in my success as well. I’m still “growing up” within the blogosphere, but I started taking blogging seriously in August 2005 and since then I have had a few things “click” so to speak that have helped make my blogs decently popular.

    I wrote about 5 posts on my personal blog, College-Startup.com, and Scrivs accepted it at 9rules. That got me decent exposure.

    I sold my poker blog to Andy Hagans (of Performancing.com). I had no idea who Andy was, but he linked to my personal blog and mentioned my name and suddenly I had quite a traffic spike, and then I also ended up doing a design job for him and his blog network.

    I met David Krug, Matt Craven, and Chris Pearson through 9rules and we’re now working on BlogMedia. We were all trying to do something cool at the same time, David had asked me to write on Problogging.com, Matt had asked David to make Problogging.com and his other sites part of BlogMedia, and so I ended up joining BlogMedia as well.

    Luck is not the most important part of being successful, but it certainly helps. I seem to meet the right people at the right time too, just as you described :)

  11. Mary says:

    I’d agree that luck is mostly an opportunity. People that are negative or complaining that they never have any good luck don’t see when something good comes up because they are too busy being negative or feeling sorry for themselves. If you work hard and have a positive mindset, you will recognize more of those opportunities and try to take advantage of them.

    They don’t always work out, but people tend to only talk about the time when it did work, when you were at the right place at the right time. You put yourself in a position to be there through hard work.

  12. Michael Rew says:

    “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:10-12, KJV).

    I wrote this simple rhyme to express my view of luck: “I know my chances may look slim. But I trust not in chances. I trust in Him.”

  13. Alvin says:

    “Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.” I like that.

    My martial arts teacher likes to say that winning a fight is a combination of luck and skill: the more you have of one, the less you need of the other.

  14. Cassie says:

    I believe I’m lucky because my 4 week old son is such a good baby!

    But when it comes to my blog and other ventures, I believe in hard work and making smart (and sometimes risky) choices. Sometimes those choices happen to coincide with other people’s choices which can then turn into something great and successful – and that, I think, is fate. I’ve always thought that if something was meant to happen, it will.

  15. Blog Bloke says:

    Luck be a lady: There is always a certain amount of luck that comes with any enterprise. And getting the right link from the right source doesn’t hurt. But don’t forget that thing called karma either. Give back as you have received. Are you listening Darren ;-)

  16. The best book on “luck” I’ve read is SynchroDestiny by Deepak Chopra. It’s really about coincidence, which comes to the same thing, and develops that Emerson quote in the post. It’s quite mystical but leaves you in no doubt you that luck can be attracted with the right mental approach.

  17. Erno says:

    Darren great post! You just hit my button.

    My own luck has come in many forms.
    Timing – I came across blogging at an ideal time when the blogosphere was young, uncluttered and still forming.

    This was the luck thing, in my opinion. The rest has got a lot to do with:

    “do what you love, and the money will follow.”

    Work hard
    Be yourself
    Recognise opportunity and react
    Don’t be afraid

    I already have a great life, are very happy/’lucky’ and love what I do..
    Now, the last thing will be to become full time entrepeneur and do what I love all the time, atm y own expense… At least that is the way I see it.
    Other entrepeneurs complain about the orders, customers, cooperations they have been pulled into and it all just sounds like work again.
    I want to continue just doing what I love. If an order or cooperation does not feel right, pull out, whatever the other party may think. Be honoust about the reason though. Be yourselve and opportunity/luck will come to you.
    Sometimes it lookes like people have no luck but it has got a lot to do with focus on the failures (as bat luck).

  18. Woody Allen’s latest thriller, “Match Point”, starts and ends with the quote “It is better to be lucky than good”.

  19. Darren Rowse says:

    I agree that that part was pretty lucky Erno – but then again today as I’ve been pondering it I realise that plenty of other people came across blogging three years ago also. For instance one of the guys who suggested I look at blogs saw them too but did nothing about it. So perhaps there’s something more to it also… hmmmm.

    I’ll say more in my next post on the topic tomorrow some time.

  20. Aaron says:

    Luck, and good advice, I think.

    Darren (and others), how did you cope with silly paperwork issues and red tape, like when Commission Junction or Chitika ask you to fill out USA IRS forms like W-8BEN and W8ECI? (Note: I always assumed that Australia had tax treaties with the US, and having no US business activities would make it pointless to fill them out in the first place. So why do they still ask for me? Just to confuse us?)

    As you can tell, I’m currently frustrated by red tape. I need to put away the W-8BEN for a while and come back to it later, lest my head explode.

    Cheers.

  21. Aaron, as soon as I change the country to UK on those business applications, the tax demands are waived. I assume it’s the same for Australia, though Canada, being part of NAFTA, may be in a different boat.

  22. Darren Rowse says:

    Aaron – I just filled the things in and sent them off (faxed from memory). Frustrating but without it I wasn’t getting paid so I just did it and got on with blogging.

  23. Aaron Brazell says:

    I think luck has a very small part to do with it. I think it’s just “being aware” more than anything else. When I lived in New York (which is not all that bad of a city as big cities go in terms of crime) I would have out of town friends or family visit me. I would take them out and about in town (never the touristy places) and we’d walk through neighborhoods or subway stations which were not the nicest places in town. I’d be asked questions like “Is it okay for us to be here?” or “How do you know you’re not going to get mugged.”. My answer was always along the same line: “Eyes up, always aware. No what is happening around you at all times and be ready to move if you have to… And act like you belong.”

    The truth is that blogging is a lot like a walk down 148th st in the Bronx. If you are observant of trends, personalities, etc and are ready to move at a moment’s notice, you’ll be okay. Bloggers shapeshift so much because they are constantly adapting to the blogging environment around them. Not so sure I can chalk it up to dumb luck, but I do think I agree that some luck is important.

  24. Jon Morrow says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned karma. Not only do you give away lots of great content for free, but you link to people that are so much smaller and unable to pay you back. That’s built you a lot of karma points. So, it’s no wonder you’re lucky.

    How about a book on Blog Karma?

  25. Rick says:

    Aaron, great analogy and I think you are exactly right. Always knowing what is going on around you will help you prepare for the sudden unexpected changes, which helps put you in the right place at the right time.

  26. Darren:

    Loved your article, great work!

    It inspired me to write my own article on luck for budding entrepreneurs — thanks for your insight.

    My article can be found at: http://www.cashcampus.com/ftt

    David Askaripour
    http://www.cashcampus.com

  27. I too agree in a bit of luck, but I try to live more by this one:

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

  28. Gragra says:

    Nice bit of self promotion David Askaripour but if this article by Darren inspired you why didn’t you link to it? That’s what blogging is all about, people linking to people who inspire them to keep a conversation going.

  29. Hey Gragra,

    Thanks for the comment.
    The reason I didn’t link it because his article on luck focused on blogging, and I try to keep the focus of my site on student entrepreneurship.

    However, I am sure that there are many articles that Darren has written that I will indeed link onto my site. I definitely agree with you that that’s what blogging is all about. Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated. I’m new to this blogging world, so I’m still learning bit by bit – thanks for the help.

    David Askaripour
    http://www.cashcampus.com/ftt

  30. Belle says:

    Here’s a book about luck, Darren – The Luck Factor, by Richard Wiseman. From the back cover: “For over ten years, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has been conducting a unique research project, examining the behaviour of over a thousand volunteers who considered themselves “lucky” or “unlucky”. The results reveal a radical new way of looking at luck.”

  31. claude says:

    Darren,

    I love and experiment in my life this :
    “The right person is the one who seizes the moment”
    J.W.Goethe

    With the power of Internet and blogs, is easy ;-))

    Best regards from France and thank you for your blog.

    I learn a lot from you and your blog

    Claude

  32. Aaron and Rick :: I loved that analogy about bloggers being “shapeshifters”. If you think about it, bloggers live in a world of pure electronic consciousness. We can present ourselves how we want to be, not as we are in our physical circumstances. You might say it’s an experiment in living through consciousness beyond the material appearance of things. It’s probably where humans are evolving to in any case — individually as well as species-wide.

    Luck can therefore be made if you don’t freeze-frame everything in accordance with someone else’s progam.

  33. K says:

    I enjoyed Bo Peabody’s book Lucky Or Smart?
    So much that I wrote a short blurb on it.

    Luck is a big part of success.
    Everyone gets a good dose of it.
    However, not many people take advantage of that luck.

    Most people don’t recognize luck or opportunities
    even if the opps slapped them across the face.
    So they get lucky, but don’t profit from that luck.

    You did.

  34. The banker says:

    The concept of luck really interests me, since I am a poker player. Your posts inspired me to write my own called Lady luck and blogging

    The main point of that post I think is that if you make quality decisions you will in the long run get your fair share of luck. But sometimes you can do everything right and still lose. Another thing is that even if there are luck involved it does not mean that there is no skill involved and that you can rely on luck alone. But I ofcourse failed to mention that in my own post:)

  35. Kevin says:

    Gary Player said: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

    By the looks of things Darren, you work bloody hard.

    (that last sentence will more than likely be censored in the UK :) )

  36. Darren Rowse says:

    nice one Kevin

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren has been posting about luck lately, and what role luck plays in business success. [...]

  2. [...] Darren Rowse posted a few times about “getting lucky” in business (and blogging, of course). It’s not luck in the sense that random numbers come together and make someone rich, that would be the lottery. It’s timing. Maybe you’ll start a company at the right time, when people are dying for the service you offer. Maybe you’ll happen meet people at the right time, they know people who need work done, people who are “big time” in the industry you’re interested in. It’s about timing and since you never know for sure if the time is right, it’s about getting lucky. [...]

  3. [...] written about being lucky on a couple of occasions previously and both times the response from readership was positive. I even [...]