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Do You Want to Get Lucky?

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

Have you ever noticed that highly successful people will accomplish as much in two or three years as the average person accomplishes in ten or twenty? I certainly have. And have you ever noticed that when some people accomplish a great deal, the so-called "average" people will talk about them? They'll often say those highly successful people were just plain "lucky."

Well, those so-called "average" people have their terms all mixed up. They've confused "luck" with "chance." And they're very different phenomena. "Chance" is like a game of blackjack or roulette ... or buying a lottery ticket. The outcome is totally unpredictable. Whatever happened in the last game or last drawing has no connection whatsoever as to what will happen the next time around. Your winnings or losings have nothing to do with luck. It's all a matter of chance.

By contrast, "luck" is predictable. Luck is the result of doing certain things so you are prepared to seize any good, exciting, and positive opportunity that comes your way. That's what one lady did. And I'll never forget her keynote address in 1980. The auditorium was packed, and the walls were lined with people, applauding her as she moved to the platform. People were excited to see the first black woman to ever give a keynote address at this esteemed meeting.

Once on stage, she looked from left to right. She scanned the audience and then said, "My mother is a deaf mute. I do not know who my father was or is. My first job was picking cotton. And I stand before you this day as Treasurer of the United States. My name is Azzie Taylor Morton."

Morton went on to say that nobody has to stay the way they are if they don't want to. She said, "The next time you say you can't do it, take out a dollar bill. You'll see my signature." And for years, that's exactly what I did. I would often glance at a dollar bill, see her signature in the lower left-hand corner, and tell myself she was one of the "lucky" ones ... because she had prepared herself for the success she enjoyed.

If you want to get lucky, it's simply a matter of engaging in the same 7 behaviors that all "lucky" people do.

  1. Get some clarity
    In other words, figure out what you want. Some researchers even say that 80% of luck is getting clear about your goals and desires. Or as I say in my seminar on "Taking Charge: Motivating Yourself To Achieve More Than Ever," you can't hit a target you can't see.

    The great American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau said it more elegantly. He said, "It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" And the same goes for you. Are you very, very clear about what you want?

  2. Ramp up your activity.
    Lucky people are always engaged in high levels of activity. They do a lot or try a lot of things. And that alone increases their probability of doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. The novelist Greg Evans took that approach. He noted, "I do not have superior intelligence or faultless looks. I do not captivate a room or run a mile under six minutes. I only succeeded because I was still working after everyone else went to sleep."

    Unfortunately for so many people ... for the unlucky ones ... they're stuck in procrastination. Their activity level is close to zero. That's why humorist Will Rogers said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." And there's no better time to ramp up your activity level than right now ... when the economy is challenging. It will dramatically improve your luck.

    Let me explain by contrasting two people entering the job market. The first person gets a good job with wonderful opportunities to use his skills to the very best of his ability. As a result, he accomplishes a lot, is promoted rapidly, is paid more, and eventually moves into a senior position in his company. He often comments on how "lucky" he was to find this job.

    By contrast, the second person gets a job that he doesn't particularly like ... a job that doesn't seem to go anywhere. But it pays the bills, so he sticks it out. He often comments on his bad luck.

    But were their outcomes merely a matter of chance ... or good luck versus bad luck? Absolutely not! The first person, who built a wonderful career for himself, spent countless hours studying his industry while the second person was at home watching television. The first person read everything he could get his hands on. He analyzed his own likes and dislikes, skills, and abilities. He set clear goals for himself and for where he wanted to be five and ten years out. The second person was too busy socializing with his friends in the evenings and on the weekends to waste time on such activities.

    The first person hit the ground running with a clear career path in mind. He was focused on moving upward and onward as quickly as possible. The second person did whatever he was asked to do, but he always looked for ways to do as little as possible. The first person started a little earlier, worked a little harder, and stayed a little later. The second person saw his job as a 9-to-5 experience and never came in earlier or stayed later.

    As author Brian Tracy concluded, "Ten years later, the success of the first person compared with the relative failure of the second person had nothing whatsoever to do with chance. In each case, each of the two made their own luck and ultimately had to live with results of their own choices." So ramp up your activity level, and then ...

  3. Master something.
    As we left the 20th century and entered the 21st century, the world of success moved from manpower to mindpower. And so your level of knowledge and skill in your chosen field will have a tremendous impact on your luck and success in that field.

  4. Proceed with energy.
    The best-selling motivational author Og Mandino commented on that. He wrote, "To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can."

    He's so right. Successful people invariably exhibit more energy than unsuccessful people. They get up earlier in the morning, and they put more hours into their work. They invest some of their own time and money into developing their careers by reading educational books, listening to motivational CDs, and attending growth-producing seminars. So it's no wonder they're so lucky.

  5. Practice niceness.
    As best-selling author Brian Tracy points out, "The word most commonly used to describe successful people is the word nice." They're more positive, optimistic, and cheerful than unsuccessful people; so other people naturally want to be around them as well as help them in any way possible.

    Of course, the cynics might say, "Well, yeah sure. It's easy for them to be happy. They don't have the problems I have." But take it from a person who had lots of problems but was "lucky" enough to overcome all of them. The opera singer Beverly Sills used to say, "I'm not happy. I'm cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them."

    Luck is partly the product of niceness ... not nastiness. The movie star W.C. Fields put it this way: " A dead fish can float downstream but it takes a live one to swim up."

  6. Be honest.
    In the final analysis, people want to do business with people they like and trust. And when you become known as a person of honor, truth, and integrity, you will attract luck into your life the way honey attracts bees.

  7. Persist.
    Lucky people tend to be purpose-driven and incredibly persistent. Unlucky people tend to be excuse-driven and incredibly quick to quit.

    When I teach salespeople, I urge them to be persistent. I quote Marilyn Van Derbur. Marilyn was a former Miss America and years later a master salesperson who made it to the Hall of Fame. She discovered that 50% of all salespeople will go to a prospect, present their idea or product, but if they don't sell that prospect, they'll go on to someone else. 30% of all salespeople will call on the same prospect two, three, or four times. But only 20% of all salespeople will call on the same prospect five or more times, and those 20% make 80% of all sales.

    When you stack yourself up against those figures, you might ask yourself where you fit in. And don't say you're not in sales. EVERYBODY is in sales ... even your kids and grandkids. They're trying to get "lucky," selling you on a later bedtime or just one more TV show.

    How many times do you go back and try to sell your idea to the same audience before you give up? Abraham Lincoln tried to "sell" himself to the political world 11 times. He only made 2 sales. But those 2 sales have reverberated around the world ever since.

There you have it ... the 7 behaviors that ensure your luck. And the good news ... the really good news ... is each of these behaviors are fully learnable by you. Each of these behaviors can be quickly incorporated into your life and can literally double your effectiveness and your results in a short period of time.

Chances are ... you're pretty good at some of the 7 behaviors of luck. Celebrate those. And spend one month beefing up your skills in one area that needs improvement. Watch your luck soar!

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success, Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for more information.
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