"I just got lucky", is one of these disconcerting responses entrepreneurs have to bear when seeking insights from already successful individuals.
Many entrepreneurs looking to chart their course in the complex and unpredictable world of business often find themselves confronted with a paradoxical statement from successful people: "I just got lucky." This attribution of success to luck can be disheartening, as it seems to downplay the role of strategic planning, hard work, and determination. This article delves into why successful individuals often credit luck and what entrepreneurs can glean from this seemingly unreflective stance.
Because, while seemingly unreflective, it harbors more profound implications than immediately apparent.
What is the complexity behind this attribution and what does it reveal about the nature of success?
What is beyond the real humble of recognizing that I myself am not that influential in making it happen?
What if I find myself doing everything to make myself available to luck and still will not become “successful”?
Luck—A Multifactorial Term
Attributing success to luck is more than a nod to fortuitous circumstances or beneficial timing.
It could also be a humble acknowledgment of privilege or advantageous circumstances not available to everyone.
It can also represent an expression of humility.
It can stand for a means of simplifying a complex, multifaceted journey of these chance encounters, the right timing, or being at the right place at the right time.
It's important to view this kind of success attribution not as a denial of personal effort or strategy but as a recognition of the unpredictable and uncontrollable elements inherent in any path to success.
The Role of Luck in Success
To understand why successful people attribute their achievements to luck, it's essential to first dissect the Subtext of Luck: When reflecting on ‘success’, what might they may mean by 'luck'?
When successful individuals attribute their achievements to luck, they aren't necessarily negating their hard work or acumen. Instead, they might be navigating sensitive territories. Sensitive to the societal mood, and sensitive depths of themselves. Because when we presuppose that successful people are egocentric—like the many of us seem—their attempts of navigating their personal vulnerabilities might be more revealing.
Humility and Arrogance
By crediting luck, successful people can demonstrate humility for their success while avoiding the appearance of arrogance or egotism.
By attributing success to luck, they acknowledge the external factors that contributed to their accomplishments, steering away from an image of self-glorification.
Is that an expression of gratitude?
Is their modesty not a dismissal of their effort but a sign of groundedness?
Imposter Syndrome and Praise Fatigue
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their achievements and fear being exposed as a "fraud,"
Even accomplished individuals can struggle with a deep-seated fear of being unmasked as frauds. Attributing their success to luck can be a manifestation of this psychological phenomenon.
In a similar vein, some people might experience 'praise fatigue,' leading them to deflect attention and avoid repetitive conversations about their success. A version of this is avoidance of scrutiny.
Avoidance of Scrutiny
In some cases, attributing success to luck may be a tactic to sidestep detailed questioning about their methods or to protect proprietary strategies.
Regret and Ambivalence
Sometimes, successful individuals may regret the sacrifices they made on their journey—missed experiences, strained relationships, or personal costs.
Labeling their success as "luck" could be an expression of this ambivalence—the mixed feelings one has about the trade-offs one made along the way.
Entrepreneurs, Luck, and Action
For becoming and young entrepreneurs, the narrative of luck can be frustrating, primarily because it seems to remove agency from the equation of success.
But instead of finding it discouraging we now understand these nuances and can take a more sophisticated view of success.
First, acknowledging luck doesn't negate the importance of hard work, strategic planning, and perseverance. Luck is an added factor, not a replacement for these critical elements.
Taking this perspective recognizes the reality of business: not everything is within our control. Taking a stoic approach to it might just give us that lucky break.
Second, understanding the role of luck can help us remain resilient if a venture doesn't succeed despite our best efforts. Recognizing in the face of failure that not all elements are within our control allows us to learn from unsuccessful ventures without damaging our confidence or motivation.
Third, the concept of "creating your own luck" is very powerful. Placing ourselves in situations where positive outcomes are more likely. actively seeking new experiences, seeking and capitalizing on opportunities will increase our chances of "getting lucky".
“Showing up” so extremely underrated for being ready to seize opportunities when they arise.
The elements of luck that we as entrepreneurs can embrace
Attributing success to luck is not a dismissal of effort or strategy. Instead, it's an acknowledgment of the complex and multifaceted nature of success. The reality is that some elements are beyond our control.
For us entrepreneurs, the answer “luck” should not be a source of discouragement, but a reminder of the diverse elements that contribute to success.
The elements that we should embrace are a proactive mindset and resilience, the pursuit of opportunities and the understanding that our path will not be a linear path but a complex journey.