A journalist friend is writing a book about entrepreneurship and asked me to contribute ~400 word essay with "advice." I don’t feel strongly about any one trait/skill necessary for successful entrepreneurship. So, I decided to write about luck. A lot of things are important (passion, connections, emotional intelligence, etc.) but luck doesn’t seem to be talked about much.
I don’t buy into the hype around "hard work." Hard work is important, but not the primary ingredient for successfully starting something (be it a business, project, whatever). In my view, luck is the single most underrated component of success.
There are many things you can do to maximize your chances of being lucky.
First, expose yourself to as much randomness as possible. Attend conferences no one else is attending. Read books no one else is reading. Talk to people no one else is talking to. Think and be different. This has happened more times than not: I start talking to someone at a dinner party, without any specific goal in mind, and he just happens to know someone else who just happens to know something critical for my business. That’s luck. That’s randomness.
Second, trust in probabilities of luck. I think life works in valleys and mountains. Every time luck doesn’t go my way I believe a piece of good luck is right around the corner. Every time I get lucky I prepare myself for weathering a dip. Knowing this, I can always mitigate a rough stretch and make the most of the good times.
Third, trick yourself. Self-deception is essential to maintain high self-esteem. It’s OK to take more credit than you deserve, in your own mind, for successes. It’s OK to think that you can outwork and outpassion anyone who competes with you. It’s OK to attribute soaring victories to a tireless work ethic. It’s OK if these are slight exaggerations. After all, how many people attribute "good luck" to their wins? Way less than people who attribute "bad luck" to their losses! Stay humble, especially on the outside, but consider yourself (privately) as unstoppable.
It’s very easy to dish out advice. Ask 20 entrepreneurs for their 20 keys to success and you’ll get 20 different, passionate answers. All are valid. So, it’s time to stop listening and take the plunge!