“Lucky” we call someone who has a career, a great family, and a nice house. “Lucky” are those who survived a plane crash. “Lucky” are the lottery winners. There is a universe of people we call lucky and usually it means that we probably feel like they didn’t do much to get what they have. It just happened. Being lucky is almost a magical quality we all wish we had. But can you parlay luckiness into a work success? I’d say luck is just an ingredient in a more complicated recipe, the base of which is excellent work ethics.

Luck definitely plays its crucial part in many work-related events: you pitched your project to stakeholders who were in a very jovial mood and the budget, you thought outrageously large, got approved. Some of the great inventions of our time, like invention of a microwave oven, can be attributed to luck. However, to translate this instant, luck-related success into a long-term success, you have to pair it with diligence, initiative, excellent planning, and management skills or, in other words, with work ethics. Luck might give you a good head start, but work ethics will help to carry it on. 

Also luck, as a very nebulous matter, is out of our control and immeasurable. Thus, relying on luck in building ones career would be a serious miscalculation. There is a multitude of other forces that play into success that can’t be attributed to either luck or work ethics: emotional intelligence, stress resilience, creativity. Realizing that being successful in its conventional meaning means investing in the development of all of these areas is a point where a road to success begins. To paraphrase: taking control of what you can change and making sure you are always on top of things, will yield more positive results than solely relying that luck will do it for you.  

It also seems like sometimes we call “luck” something that in reality is a result of someone’s unstoppable drive, determination to get things done, and excellent performance. But because it can be hidden from our eyes we only see the end-result that seems to materialize from nothing, and we call it “luck”. I have experienced that myself. When the head of the department I had worked for for 4 years had unexpectedly quit, I was called into my boss’s office and offered a promotion. It was a surprise, because the pool of potential, perfectly able candidates for that role was huge and I was just one of many. After I had accepted the promotion I immediately resolved that it was luck. There was an urgent need to take over the job and my boss just happened to think of me first. My colleagues, however, insisted that I was chosen for my achievements as an employee and for all the qualities I demonstrated along the way. Until now, I still say it was a mixture of both.

As it is almost always the case, no one thing can get you far. You can’t just be intelligent, you have to have outstanding people skills; you can’t always be lucky, you should support your potential luck with strong work ethics and a plethora of other qualities, that will carry that luck farther than it would’ve taken you by just itself. 

Chinatown during the outbreak of COVID-19