The Shapeshifting Power of Luck

One of my favorite speeches is The Greatest Thing a Man Can Have by Branch Rickey. The short address beings with a story about Ty Cobb, who is often maligned in history. What is truth anymore? A chase that involves catching the white rabbit from the latest Matrix trailer? A different discussion, this involves luck, which is challenging to define. Can one drink a Felix Felicis potion from Harry Potter fame? Two people won the recent six hundred million-plus grand jackpot. Did they take the concoction?

Alas, we all know magical luck potions don’t exist.

But purchasing a lottery ticket (no skill involved) puts one in the position to take home the winnings. You can’t win if you don’t play. Yes, luck is a shapeshifter with many forms. A tactic. Random event. Luck is a synonym for skill. A misnomer for fortune. Luck is a stand-in for coincidence and the stunt double for fate. A close cousin to the unpredictable.

Many analysts unfairly brand the luck title on the successful.

Steve Jobs? Mark Zuckerberg? Or, pick your Vice-President, Sales Leader, or Product Developer at any fledgling company or Fortune 50 behemoth? Are these titans and lesser gods lucky? If you study history and connect the dots, the holy deity luck possesses a diverse set of skills.

Some successful types boldly say how they achieved their dreams. The humble often say, “I gotta lucky break.”

Still, should one take advice from those who cite luck? Perhaps, they did a, b and c, and then the luck bolt from the heavens struck them. For those who devour self-help books, it’s natural to assume that a, b or c had something to do with said success. But this can lead one down the Road 66 of bad advice. Consider the person who ate a slab of bacon for breakfast and drank three bottles of wine daily; yet, lived to be a hundred. Did these habits, obviously endorsed by nutritionists globally, lead to a long, healthy and lucky life?

Nah. Luck is not a strategy–a favorite sales mantra. Hope isn’t either.

However, setting yourself up to be lucky is a best practice. Plan. Do the work. Luck is a by-product. An unpredictable one, sure, but if it works, go forth. Embrace what you deem lucky. Be humble. But don’t sell yourself short either.


  • I snapped the picture at the Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville, TN. Where hard work, talent, and a little luck is often on display.
  • The latest Matrix movie received a number of negative reviews. And, perhaps, we shouldn’t have gone back down the rabbit hole again. But, I’m glad we did, and, yes, the trailer is glorious. Jefferson Airplane wrote a priceless song.
  • And the Harry Potter references came from the latest game show. It’s been too long since I’ve read the books.