Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's luck got to do with it?

I do a lot of career coaching in my work and personal life. One of my most favorite pieces of advice is "when you accept the fact that most careers are built as a result of dumb luck and timing, you relax a bit and enjoy each experience a little more." At the core of this belief is how we respond to the opportunities presented to us. Our judgements about those opportunities have an even more profound impact on our response. Learning to drop beliefs about fairness, equity, deserving, and right and wrong and collecting beliefs about gifts of opportunity, the value of the journey, and life is as you create it change the game and how much fun you have playing it.

For me, I feel it most in my energy level. When I slip back into fairness, deserving, etc. my current life experiences feel exhausting. For example, we just received our homeowners insurance cancellation notice. Working in insurance, I knew this was coming given we lost our home and all our belongings to a fire in November. After a "total loss" most people no longer meet the criteria for insurability by their current company. Ironic given we are likely a better "risk" now that we have a brand new house with all updates wiring, etc. and let's face it, what are the chances that our house burns down again. That said, my first response of frustration with the idea of shopping for insurance on a house that hasn't even been fully rebuilt yet, was quickly replaced by gratitude as those crazy insurance rules enable insurance companies to make a lot of money and ultimately keep me employed enabling me to afford to find another company. In the two minutes it took me to go from "pity party" to gratitude, I could actually feel my energy level change.

OK, so the letter came on Saturday and on my drive to work Tuesday morning, I was rear-ended causing a bit of damage to my car. Again, my first reaction was "you've got to be kidding me" and I felt all of my energy tighten in my chest and move down to my feet as I thought about having to call the same insurance company with an auto Claim and envisioning that one pager dropping our auto insurance too. The minute I shifted from frustration to gratitude (after all me and the other driver were fine and it was a beautiful morning to be waiting on the side of the road for the local police to arrive) my energy radiated throughout my entire body, shot out through the windows and laughter replaced anger. It was a wonderful experience to actually observe the energy differences in my body. My goal is to skip the frustration and move straight to gratitude so I never waste my energy. Any suggestions?

As I share this story, I often hear, "gosh Kathy, you have the worst luck". Do I? Do you believe in luck? Perhaps luck is neither good nor bad, simply a set of experiences that if evaluated, create happiness or sadness depending on your beliefs.

Love to all, Kathy

1 comment:

  1. Kathy, Great questions?

    On the one hand, there are so many factors that lead to any given situation that one would have to assume that all we have is luck. This goes all the way back to birth: who our parents are, where in the world we live, our financial status, our social status, whether we're free or oppressed. When you think about it being offered a job at a specific point in time is the culmination of thousands of events that each depend on thousands of other events.

    On the other hand, perhaps all those thousands of events are simply the white noise of our lives. Sure, they occur and yes, they influence what happens, but the question becomes, "So what?"

    How does knowing all this change anything for me? I guess from a classic existential perspective the answer would be, "It gets me depressed. All these random things happening with no meaning whatsoever."

    From a religious perspective, we might see the hand of God transforming the chaos into order and coalescing the randomness into a meaningful event. The empowered business person might say that she creates her own luck, perhaps a bit naively, but there's still something to it.

    I remember my dad getting home from a business trip once when I was a kid. While away, he'd nearly avoided a traffic accident. While sitting at a light, he looked at his rear view mirror to see a car growing quickly. He said to himself, "Hmmm...., that guy doesn't look like he's going to stop."

    So, he pulled onto the shoulder and a few seconds later, the car plowed into the line of cars that had been in front of him. Luck? Providence?

    Regardless of the luck part, whether or not it has meaning, whether or not there is intent that drives its, whether the outcome is "good" or "bad", I love that it leaves you feeling lucky.

    Love, Teflon

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