I recently reviewed the book Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen. While written about making businesses great, I believe they have perhaps inadvertently written one of the best books on improving oneself. I am taking the next few posts to lay the case of how we can ourselves be Great By Choice.
Collins and Hansen’s last behavior of great companies is Return On Luck. Luck, as defined by the authors, is an event that occurs independent of the one’s actions, has significant consequence (good or bad), and is unpredictable. There is, of course, both good and bad luck. What surprised them in their research is that the 10X companies did not experience more good luck or less bad luck than their competitors. In short, it isn’t the luck that you get, it is what you do with it.
We all have what we consider to be luck, both good and bad, in our lives. How we respond to the luck has a lot to do with our character and the other traits described in Great by Choice. Obtaining return on luck takes dedication and foresight. How we handle bad luck is even more telling than good luck. After all, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” That is all about luck.
One point that the authors make that resonated with me is what they call “Who Luck”. This is the luck of finding the right mentor, partner, teammate, leader or friend. They maintain the best way to maintain a strong current of good luck is to associate with great people and build strong relationships with them. When luck turns bad, they will be there to help out. When times are good, they will share unselfishly. This is what building a professional network is all about. I have had the thrill of having a large amount of Who Luck. It seems everywhere I turn, people are eager to help me.
The authors recommend throwing ourselves at luck events, using all the other behaviors of success: the 20 mile march, firing bullets, then cannonballs, staying above the Death Line and maintaining the SMaC rules. By employing these skills, the most can be made of any kind of luck. Do I consider my experience of being laid off as bad luck? Yes, but it is also one of the best experiences of my life. The results the subsequent experiences have changed my life for the better. I was able to use the experience to my advantage and built a wonderful network of people who helped and an provided more profitable experiences than I could have ever hoped.
So, when regardless whether life hands us a lemon or a rose, take it and use all the skills to make it into something even more wonderful. Don’t get discouraged. The experience can be, in time and with work, some of the best luck ever experienced. Keep in mind the importance of Return On Luck.
Great By Choice Personal Improvement Series
Great By Choice: Personal Success In Reach
Great By Choice: The 20 Mile March
Great By Choice: Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs
Great By Choice: Leading Above the Death Line
Great By Choice: SMaC
Great By Choice: Return On Luck