The following is adapted from Lost in Startuplandia.
Luck is a fickle beast, isn’t it? I’m not sure if I’d consider myself lucky or not, but what I do know is that luck often appears out of nowhere when we least expect it.
What I believe is equally true is that luck is what we make of it. Either we convert our good fortune into an opportunity or we don’t. Whether we consider ourselves lucky or not, we all get lucky breaks, yet only a few of us are able to take advantage of them.
What makes certain people better at capitalizing on these moments of luck? Financial resources certainly help, as does the intelligence required to know what to do with our opportunity. But most importantly, we need to be prepared to work from our strengths.
Of course, to work from that place, we first need to know our strengths. The trick is we think we know them, but many of us would struggle to name and describe them. Let’s look at a way to identify our strengths, then see how they can increase our luck.
How to Get a Handle on Our Strengths
One of the best ways to discover our strengths is by taking the CliftonStrengths assessment. In fact, I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t taken it to stop everything and take it right now. When I took it, I got a whole new, helpful window into myself.
Unlike other assessments that focus on what we need to do better, the CliftonStrengths test focuses on our native capabilities and our natural way of processing information.
As I learned after taking the assessment, our strengths are unique. Only one in 33 million will have the same set of strengths that we do.
When we focus on building these strengths, we can unlock our greatest potential. If we choose to shore up our weaknesses, the best we can hope for is to be mediocre.
Be Ready for the Inevitable Bad Luck
“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity,” the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote. To be prepared, we must invest the time. We have to stick it out to be ready, but not mindlessly. We need to focus on our strengths. When we do things that we are naturally good at, it gives us a boost and encourages us to keep going.
If all we do is work on our deficits, we will tire eventually. It undermines our resilience. When we exhaust ourselves, we can’t take advantage of our luck when it changes.
We have to endure the inevitable bad luck. Focusing on the upside allows us to stay in the game longer and thereby be better prepared when luck comes back around to visit. Here’s the catch. The time between lucky breaks can be excruciatingly long.
When we are incapable of making the best of bad situations, we burn out. We get sick, mentally and physically. Anxiety about the future grips us. Depression loves to remind us of all the things we have done wrong. We see only our deficits.
When viewed through this lens, it’s easy to see why we fail. We take our bad luck personally. We see it as proof that we aren’t that good, which kills our self-belief. We focus our efforts on shoring up what we do poorly, which grinds us down.
Give Up What We Don’t Do Well
To succeed, we have to figure out how to concentrate on our strengths.
For the control freaks out there, this next part can be hard to hear. Working from our strengths means we have to offload the things we don’t do well.
This means we need to give up control of certain critical tasks or even our company. Even the idea of giving up control thwarts a lot of entrepreneurs. The simple belief that “I need to do this all by myself” has blown up countless startups.
When we work from a place of strength, we are more productive and positive about the future. We set the conditions for luck to favor us—and we are ready to act when it does.
For more advice on working from your strengths, you can find Lost in Startuplandiaon Amazon.