Why I Believe in Good Luck (But Don’t Rely on It)

So, there’s this guy. And things really haven’t been going his way lately. He shows up to work one day, only to be called into his manager’s office right away. Sales of their most recent product offering have been nowhere near where they had hoped and the company is closing its doors. He’s being laid off and, since the company is declaring bankruptcy, he won’t be receiving any severance pay. He walks back to his car only to find that his windshield has been smashed in and his tires have been slashed.

After calling in the insurance claim and getting his car towed away, he heads over to the bus stop, only to miss the bus by a few seconds. When he finally gets home, his wife tells him that she wants a divorce. And she’s taking the kids. With what little money he has, the man rents a bachelor apartment in a sketchy part of town. There’s no hot water, and the single bare light bulb in the room flickers out. It hasn’t been a very good few days at all, I think we’d all agree.

It feels like all hope is lost, and the man dissolves into a puddle of tears. Completely and utterly distraught, he falls to his knees, next to the single mattress laying on the bare floor, and raises his hands up to the heavens. In a defeated voice overcome with fear, he bellows, “Why God? Why?! Please. Can’t anything go my way? Can I just win the lottery or something?”

All of a sudden, a booming voice fills the room. “Uh, Jim. How about you meet me halfway on this one and buy a ticket first?”

You’ve Got to Buy a Ticket

Whether or not you believe in God or some other greater power, the point of this little parable is that life really can go completely sideways through no fault of our own. You can do nothing wrong and yet suffer from all the horrible consequences. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. And then there’s that other thing.

Just as things can go badly for you through no fault of your own, you also can’t rely on some higher power to grant you a miracle out of the blue, at least not without putting in some effort on your part.

The story is meant to be taken with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but if all you do is sit around all day and wait for riches to befall you, nothing is going to happen. In other words, you have to buy a ticket first. And understand that even if you buy a ticket, you probably still won’t win the lottery.

But maybe you will, even if you practically buy that ticket by accident.

The How to DAD Success Story

A great example of this is Jordan Watson from New Zealand. You probably know him best as the guy behind the How to DAD YouTube channel. Most of his videos have to do with being a dad, presenting a satirical take on modern parenthood. And in one video, he describes how his first ever video went viral… it was completely unexpected and utterly by chance.

He was bored at home. So, he decided to make a video about how to hold a baby (over 3 million views to date). His only motivation at the time was that he was hoping his friend would think the video was funny. When he woke up the next morning, the video had already gone viral. And he’s been making funny videos about dad life ever since. By making that first video, he bought a ticket. And most of us would agree that, as far as YouTube success goes, he pretty much won the lottery. It’s a stroke of good luck.

Jordan Watson never gave any thought to YouTube monetization or how he could implement the SEO best practices for his video description or how he should set up his YouTube end screen. He just did it for fun. Things have changed now, to be sure, but good luck gave him his start.

From the Poorest Postal Code

Luck plays a role, but it’s also insufficient. Consider John Chow’s journey. He famously grew up in one of Canada’s poorest neighborhoods. In his own words, John describes himself as unemployable. So, he decided to “buy a ticket” by making opportunities of his own. One thing led to another and that’s how you get the John Chow dot Com empire that you see today.

Was good luck on his side? Maybe. But he also put in a lot of hard work and plenty of hours to get to where he is today.

Raw talent, relentless ambition and hard work, unfortunately, aren’t always enough to make it big. That’s true. However, these attributes are enough to get you going in the right direction. If you keep putting in the hours, if you keep learning and growing and evolving, if you are willing and able to improve, you’ll certainly get somewhere. And maybe, with just a little good luck on your side, you’ll really go places.

Then, you won’t even concern yourself with winning the lottery anymore.