When it comes to Success, is it Luck or … ?

I’m not sure whom to attribute this visual to, especially since I’ve seen it many times, but it got me thinking about success. Specifically, what it takes to get there. The definition of success is relative and subjective, don’t you think? Thus, the differing opinions on what it means, often based on wildly divergent viewpoints and values.

I’ve had people throughout my life tell me I was lucky for whatever success came my way. Lucky to get a sought-after promotion, receive recognition, or simply enjoy what I do, among other things. Up until several years ago, I would either agree, not say anything, or, most notably, not speak up for myself and point out that I generally don’t believe in luck.

I wasn’t lucky to get those desired positions, awards, or careers that I loved; I worked hard for them. I set intentions and put plans in place to advance myself, personally or professionally. I held myself capable and open to opportunities. I thoughtfully tried to align whatever I was doing with what was important to me, to my values. Always with a goal to make a difference, large or small.

Intention plus action will usually lead to achieving our goals.

When it comes to workplace happiness (an important part of my definition of success), I was able to appreciate the rewarding elements of whatever role I held and not dwell on the elements that didn’t fill my cup. If the scales tipped more to the good rather than the bad, I remained happy and content. 

As I’ve been rather open about, I was downsized a few times after years of service in different industries. After the first time, I was good with being let go, didn’t take it personally, and recognized the experience would lead me to something better. Surprisingly, I often didn’t even recognize the parts of the job that didn’t serve me until after I left. Having said that, I also had roles where the less attractive aspects outweighed the positive and I chose to leave. With no regrets. What has shifted over the years is my tolerance level of the delta between the fulfilling and unfulfilling bits. The former holds more weight now and I’m braver about making decisions or having difficult conversations that help pave the path to where I want to go.

Today, I choose what I do, who I work with, and when and where I do it. It feels like a gift I’ve given myself.

The point is, success, no matter what our definition is, takes effort. It’s about the hard work, perseverance, discipline, and the other words below the waterline in this visual. I would add resiliency, adaptability, and courage, as well as a genuine desire to learn and grow, as key mindsets of the journey to success.

For some, success can be as simple as a comfortable and predictable career and life or as complicated as building and running an empire. And everything in between. Regardless, it takes showing up every day, sometimes good timing or connecting with the right people, and is ultimately up to you. But it’s rarely about luck.

How do you define success and how do you achieve it? 

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