People often refer to Lottery winners as being lucky. With the odds stacked heavily against them, they gamble a few dollars on a game and millions of dollars are won. “Luck, it must be luck”, people say.
Sadly, most of these instant millionaires end up broke within 10 years, or eventually in the same financial state they were before they hit the lottery. Some even find themselves in debt and worse off than before they won. Lottery winners are given the chance of a lifetime, a fantasy that many of us dream of. So what happens? Where does all the money go?
Think about this; if you gave Donald Trump a few million bucks, what are the odds that he would squander it away? Trump would probably turn those millions into tens of million. So, what’s the difference? You think Donald Trump is “luckier” than lottery winners?
Let’s take a look at Bill Gates. People say that he was incredibly lucky. He was born into an upper middle class family who had the finances to send him to a private school. He was born in the mid 1950’s which meant he would grow up during the dawn of the computer age. His school just happened to have a teletype connection to a computer, a rarity in the 1960s and 1970s. Having access to, and introduced to computer technology, put him ahead of the curve. Bill Gates just happened to have a friend, Paul Allen, who showed him an article in the 1975 Popular Electronics issue, titled, “Worlds First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models.” It was from this article that Bill Gates and Paul Allen decided to convert the programming language of the day, BASIC, into a marketable product that would someday be used in the first personal computer. And, he also attended Harvard, which just happened to have a PDP-10 computer. It was on this computer that Bill Gates developed and tested his product. Yes, the stars were aligned the moment Bill Gates was born. Boy was he lucky!
Let’s examine the Bill Gates situation a bit more closely. Was Bill Gates the only person to be born at that time? Was Bill Gates the only student to attend his high school and the only one to have access to those early computers? Was Bill Gates the only person to attend a college with access to a computer? Was Bill Gates the only person in 1975 to read that article in Popular Electronics? The answer to these questions is obviously no. There were thousands, if not tens of thousands of kids born at the same time Bill Gates was born and exposed to the same opportunity he was.
The truth is there were a lot people who were just as “lucky” as Bill Gates. It’s true he was lucky to be born at the right time, but it wasn’t luck that made the difference. Countless people with the same opportunity could have done what Bill Gates did. So why didn’t they?
The difference with people like Bill Gates is how they view the world around him. People like Gates are able to see things from a different perspective and turn the events around them into larger things. Lottery winners, who go broke, focus on the money itself and believe that the money is what makes them successful. The Donald Trumps of the world view the same money as a means to make that money larger and larger, through investments, real estate purchases and other business transactions. It’s what you do with luck that makes the difference.
Ask yourself, have you had opportunity in the past and not capitalized on it? The answer may be yes. Most of us have opportunities throughout our lives, but for one reason or another, we hold back. It may be out of fear of failure; it may be lack of preparation or the knowledge needed to turn the opportunity into a gold mine. Whatever the reason, we need to realize that when opportunity knocks on our doors, we need to be ready to answer it.
My father told me years ago, “Millionaires were born out of the great depression”. How can this be? Everyone was suffering back then with little resources to work with. Again, different people see things through a different lens and its how you look at the world around you that will make the difference.
Some people say you make your own luck. Luck in one form or another comes to all of us. It’s not that you make your own luck; rather you are truly lucky when you recognize an opportunity and act on it, turning the event into something larger.
In 1917, a young eight year old boy by the name of Glenn Cunningham was badly burned in an explosion at school. His legs were so badly burnt and mutilated that the doctors recommended amputating them. Glenn Cunningham, greatly distressed over this, somehow convinced his parents to agree not to have his legs removed. Because of the severe damage to his legs, the doctors said he might not ever walk again, if he survives. It would take great determination and two grueling years before Glenn would start to walk again. Glenn devoted is young life to strengthening his legs and eventually began running. He would run everywhere, to and from school or to the store for his mother. In 1934 he set the world record for the mile, which stood for three years. He competed in the 1932 Olympics where he won 4th place in the 1500 meter and competed at the 1936 Olympics where he placed second in the 1500 meters. He also set an indoor mile world record in 1934 and set a world record in the 800 meter run in 1936.
Yes, bad luck did hit Glenn Cunningham at the young age of eight years. But what he did with his life, a result from a tragic event, is a lesson we can all learn from.
When times are bad, many of us in businesses tend to hunker down. Fear takes over, which can consume us and cloud our judgment. This can prevent us from moving forward and may hurt us in the long run. Start looking at the events in your life, good and bad, as opportunity, not adversity. Remember, everyone is probably going through the same thing. Yes, some maybe worse than others. But, how you view the events around you, how you react to these events and build for the future will make a difference.
So, is success really about luck? It may be. It’s the luck you create with the opportunity or the circumstances you encounter. It’s all about attitude. Positive feelings influence positive actions. Those that push themselves under all conditions are far better off than those that hunker down. Thomas Jefferson once said, I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”