After a recent interview the topic of luck and serendipity came up and it felt like such a pertinent area of discussion that just making reference to it in the blog of the interview was doing it a disservice. So I’ve pulled it out and presented my thoughts here.
The 9 ideas that follow represent a very basic framework that has flowed out of my conversations and research so far. No doubt there’s more to uncover on the subject, but here’s my response to the initial inspiration.
MAKING YOUR OWN LUCK
1. Put the work in
Very simply, the harder you work and the more things you do, the greater your chance of getting “lucky”.
2. Learn from the experts
As an amateur your opportunities to hone your craft may be less than those who have decided to dedicate every waking hour to it. But there are always ways to keep up. One of these is watching and learning from experts. Let them put the time in and then study what they do. It can be people you work with or those whose work you admire. Ask questions if you can or study their choices from afar. Either way, work to be as good as those that inspire you. Putting in the work will allow you to open doors to new opportunities. Becoming an expert that puts in the work will mean others will start seeking you out.
3. Become the expert
Once you start down a path you know will hold your attention, look to become an expert in it. As I mentioned in the previous point, you may not have had the time, resources and training afforded to a professional, you do have more freedom to make advantageous choices. If you’re not reliant on your theatre activities to pay the bills you don’t have to take work you don’t want. Or work that doesn’t challenge you. Or work that doesn’t make you better. You can choose what experience will propel you forward most efficiently and effectively. Each choice you allow yourself to make that forces you to become better than you were the last time is a choice that moves you one step closer to becoming an expert.
The world is a busy and exciting place. Your level of focus will determine the amount of luck that presents itself to you. This can be very hard as an amateur because your focus will naturally have to be elsewhere, but if you are visualising your outcomes and you’re present of the world around you, opportunities will arise that you may not have seen before.
5. Spot the unexpected then capitalise on chance opportunities
To get lucky you’ll also need to train yourself to see luck coming and catch it before it flies right by. This training needn’t be vigorous or stressful, you just need to begin thinking like a lucky person and reacting like a lucky person. How do you do that? Well you need to refocus some of your mindsets to be more open to the chance of the unexpected happening. If you can begin to accept that things might go wrong or even just different to how you planned, your brain will begin mapping out alternative outcomes. These may never be called upon but if the muscle is there and primed to jump into action, luck won’t be far away.
6. Be flexible
Reactions take flexibility and in order to embrace your luck you need to be flexible enough to respond to it. To be flexible you need to create a certain amount of freedom in your physical and mental spaces. Declutter your life, streamline your routines and allow time to be present just for yourself.
7. Take chances
Once you’ve learnt to spot luck coming and have the flexibility of mind and body to embrace it, you now just need to have the courage to grab it by the horns and ride it into the sunset (so to speak). It’s true that taking chances is a dangerous business. But if you’re lucky, most of the time you’ll get outcomes that will benefit you in a positive way. And if you have a lucky mindset, most of the outcomes will be positive even if they’re not. So make assessments of the opportunities that are presenting themselves and don’t just jump in blind. But once you’re happy with the merits of the endeavour, take a leap of faith.
8. Embrace failure
If all of the above doesn’t lead to the outcomes and luck you thought it would, it's time to embrace the reality of what occurred, dust yourself off and get back to work. Failures will happen and sometimes you’ll struggle with a choice you’ve made. But there are lessons to be learnt from both. If you’ve done all of the above you should be in a place where failing feels powerful. The more you’re failing the more you're pushing your boundaries and the more likely it is that you’ll make breakthroughs. It’s also at this point you should begin to notice that your moments of success are less and less down to serendipity and more likely to stem from your hard work and expertise. However, there’s always the possibility that you were just unlucky this time and you’ll be luckier next time
9. Be luckier next time.