We blame it for our failures, on occasion offer it humbly as the reason for our success, but do any of us truly know what luck is? It seems as if it’s something we are born with, either what we touch turns to gold or lead depending on the amount or kind.
Let’s address the idea of what we call “good luck.” The term we use for people who seem just like us, but have found a great deal of success in whatever they’ve done.
Baltasar Gracian offers this opinion in his book, The Art of Worldly Wisdom.
There are rules to luck, for to the wise not all is accident; try, therefore, to help luck along. Some are satisfied to stand politely before the portals of Fortuna and to await her bidding; better those who push forward, and who employ their enterprise, who on the wings of their worth and valor seek to embrace luck and effectively to gain her favor. And yet, properly reasoned, there is no other way to her but that of virtue and attentiveness: for none has more good luck, or more bad luck, than he has wisdom, or unwisdom.
Gracian reasons that luck is a matter of wisdom and diligence. We should not argue that much of luck is seizing the right choice at the right time. It is best demonstrated when skill meets opportunity.
Luck appears best to those who seek her, those who do not stand idle waiting for good to happen to them. Success comes to the ones who fight for it, pushing, learning, training and preparing for their opportunity to come. If we look to our examples of history, we see this rule proven time and time again.
Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, the list could go on indefinitely. These men took a chance when they saw it, knowing the risks and possible rewards. Reading biographies of their lives, you will find years of education. Studying and developing their talents, not merely waiting for the smile of good fortune, but looking for her.
The role of intuition should not be overlooked. Brilliant entrepreneurs often appear to possess a mystique ability to read the future, predicting correctly what will become the next product every household needs. Usually this is due to a gut feeling that agrees or disagrees with an idea. Wisdom is said to be the proper application of knowledge: Noah Webster himself defined it as such. It is the joining of discretion with our knowledge, choosing how to administer it properly in life. By it, we determine what is useful, and what is irrelevant.
There will be multiple opportunities to greet you in life, but not all of them will be right. By every opportunity we take, we learn, but they will not all end successfully. Use wisdom in determining which to take, and how far to follow it.
What one might call good luck another could say is the reward of diligent effort. There is no magic formula to get what we want. All one can do, if he hopes for success, is to work for it. The American Dream is the belief that anyone can find the place they belong based on their effort. Luck will come to the one who earns it by their diligence and by their understanding.