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  • Ranganathan Vellor

What's luck got to do with it?

Luck is part of everyone’s life. Yet no one wants to say “ I was lucky”, but would always prefer to say of others “He was lucky”. How often has exceptional business performance been derided as simply the product of good luck or unexpected windfall market conditions Lady Luck often gets credit for others’ success. But if one were to carefully analyze the situation, one may find that luck has little to do with the successful result. What matters are the actions taken by the lucky person and those they wisely chose to avoid. Being at the right place at the right time and doing the right thing is a good recipe for success. This is as true for ordinary mortals as for entrepreneurs who are successfully doing this time and again. Are these people what they are, by a conspiracy of happy accidents? I have heard a few of them say, “a bit of luck helps and a lot of luck is even better” Golf they say is often a game of luck. I don’t think this is untruemaybebe because I am not too good at it. How about a game of poker or black jack? People who play cards tell me that luck determines the way the cards are dealt but awareness and understanding determine how you play them for the best results. Would you say the same for a game of chess? Cricket, I suppose you know the answer. Do you? How about a person who ventured into a new territory, established a market for his new product and also caught peak of the sales. Was this person just plain lucky? What about the man who waited a year and had to take what was left of that market, was he unlucky? When some one walks on the road and finds a bundle of high value notes, no one really believes that he or she should take credit for it. But in business, if one gets lucky like that, which I have discovered, sometimes happen, I suppose such luck is not really apparent. Such luck is also a secret unless it is unearthed by the not so lucky and jealous competitor. Why are some people always lucky while others never get the breaks? Questions like this have no convincing answers for some. What is this luck that people talk about especially when they see other people more successful than themselves. In folklore, the goddess Fortune was conventionally depicted as a blindfolded woman turning a large wheel. In the same breadth let us also remember the proverb “The highest spoke in the fortune’s wheel, may soon turn lowest”. That is how fickle this luck or fortune is. And interestingly it is also a four letter word for some!! Fate and luck play a role in business. Leaders themselves are sometimes ready to acknowledge the role of luck. But the truth is luck can never carry the day completely. Successful entrepreneurs are essentially innovative, ethically convincing and truthfully positive. Such people are able to rally behind them, a host of talented and committed people. A vision and mission communicated by the entrepreneur with clarity, honesty, charisma and passion is what creates an atmosphere of charge which then ignites and propels an enterprise. The sheer doggedness and determination drive these ordinary people who achieve extra ordinary things just by not giving up. As they say “the harder you work the luckier you get”. Successful entrepreneurs make their own luck when they leave themselves open to coincidences, unexpected opportunities and serendipitous - pleasant and unexpected- discoveries. However, even serendipity needs a fertile ground and a willingness to act. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Faith may move mountains but you also need your shovel and help. In the world of science, it is said that very stringent research processes often produce ordinary results. So out of ordinary performance requires the freedom not to function like a bridled horse. Unexpected discoveries are not simply a matter of chance but they arise from chance and as Louis Pasteur said “chance only favours minds which are prepared”. Entrepreneurs often accept the role of chance, but underplay its role as they are understandably fearful that others will exaggerate or misinterpret its contribution. In a world of ingenuity, spontaneity and rush, the ability to translate creative ideas into profitable ventures is only possible with a superior capacity to perform. Shorter life cycle of products and services bring dazzling dynamism in the market place where many brands struggle to survive. Even for those brands that manage to exist, there is a continual reshuffling of position. This is a reality far away removed from fortuitous conditions. Then as Mark Twain said necessity is the mother of taking chances. The decision you take decides matters. In a way, luck is an accident that happens to the competent. Being alert is what luck is all about. If you are not alert then someone smarter will get ahead of you. The harder you try, the luckier you get. As the Swedes say – Luck never gives, it only lends.

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