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Two Skills for Making Your Own Luck

Two Skills for Making Your Own Luck

“Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned.” – Emily Dickinson

Good fortune seems to follow successful people. Wherever they go, they’re always in the right place at the right time, or they know exactly the right person to get the job done. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to dismiss this serendipity as luck.

In fact, the good fortune of others can sometimes be downright demotivating, as we see what appear to be supernatural powers guiding them, leaving the rest of us behind to find success for ourselves.

Luck, however, is not a mystical secret, and it is attainable even by mere mortals like us. What we perceive to be luck is the outcome of hard work, exerted over months, years, and decades. Luck is born at the convergence of passion, skill, and circumstance. In other words, good fortune follows successful people because luck is made, not found.

Applying our potential in effective ways generates circumstances where our fortunes can flourish. Good fortune grows in the same way that dedication to growth allows our innate potential to blossom into our full selves. Human potential is vast and, when correctly applied, boundless in its ability to exceed our expectations, and that ability is the core of what we call luck.

If you want to grow your own luck, here are the two key proficiencies you need to cultivate:

1. Working efficiently and relentlessly on your passions
2. Networking and prioritizing the needs of others

Pursuit of passion

Two of the core contributors to good fortune are passion and skill. The “and” is important in that sentence. It’s not enough just to be passionate, and innate skill alone is insufficient. You need to first care deeply about the projects you pursue, and then translate that passion into work.

The level of skill that leads to great success is never innate. Being naturally talented is often a key reason someone pursues a field, but it is never enough on its own. To find success, to cultivate luck, requires dedication and focused effort to continuously improve. Be relentless and your efforts will pay off with enormous returns.

The level of commitment necessary to excel is impossible without passion. Without a driving force, the long hours of hard work needed to become exceptional will quickly wear down even the most resilient of people. The only way to move forward is to support your dedication with a passion to grow and excel.

Finding your passion and pursuing it with intensity will give you tremendous leverage to create opportunities that others perceive as luck. They are strong drivers of success and are essential ingredients to luck, but to complete the picture, we turn to the next proficiency.


The third contributor to good fortune is circumstance, and networking is a method to exert influence over our external circumstances. This is critical for creating our own luck. While skill and passion allow us to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, influencing our external circumstances allows us to create opportunities where before there were none.

Networking is the interpersonal aspect of luck. It is the driver that generates the quality of “being in the right place at the right time,” and it makes it possible to know the right person to get the job done. If you’re not into professional speak, you might refer to networking as something else. My favorite substitute is “making friends.”

When you network, you create opportunities for collaboration. If you want to have maximum impact and find luck for yourself and others, collaboration is the key to doing that. We, as humans, are most effective and happiest when we work together for a common cause.

The great thing about networking is that it’s unpredictable and often leads to surprising, or some might say lucky, results. There is no knowing in advance the type of people you will meet, or their passions, or how you may be able to help one another.

Helping others is perhaps the most rewarding part of networking. When you make it a point to meet new people frequently, you will eventually find yourself able to use your skills or connections to the benefit of others. Doing so strengthens your ties with the people in your network and builds good will. This is your opportunity to create luck for others.

Final Thoughts

Luck is a creation, not a discovery, and you can create it for yourself. Passion, focus, and selflessness are its ingredients. When you develop the drive and ability to help others achieve their dreams, yours will follow shortly after. Work tirelessly in pursuit of greatness, for yourself and for others, and you will make your own luck.

Two Skills for Making Your Own Luck
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About Herbie Smith

Herbie Smith began his blog Go Get Action in December 2016, where he writes about productivity, personal leadership, and applied psychology. Outside of his work as a blogger, Herbie daylights as a graduate student in physics and spends time with his family and friends. Herbie is a Goldwater Scholar and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

One comment

  1. Thanks for the post Herbie and great points! I’m curious if you’ve considered that some entrepreneurs may be passionate about building a business regardless of the topic/medium? If this is the case, would an individual not be able to thrive as much as an individual focused on passion around a specific topic? Finally, for those individuals pursuing their passion, how they develop the skills necessary to convert that passion to a viable business outside of the networking component alone?

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