Luck is where preparation meets opportunity

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity

Roman Stoic Philosopher, Seneca the Younger is quoted as having said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  I once had an amazing manager who used to say this all the time and I have to admit, I’ve used it quite a bit myself. I consider myself a very lucky person most days.

I believe that we make our own luck to an extent. When we are prepared with the right skills, temperament, geography and any number of other attributes, the perfect opportunity often makes its’ appearance.  The operative word is “Preparation”.  We’ve all heard of the stories of people who have great riches coming their way and, because we’ve never heard of them before, we think of them as overnight successes. We don’t see the hours of practice on a frozen pond learning to skate and shoot a puck or the years spent in school obtaining that degree.  Sometimes the success is due to an innate talent or personal expression that evolves organically, almost effortlessly and is exactly what we are looking for. 


I have a friend from high school who decided to take on a corporate gig after years as an entrepreneur. She had a unique combination of skills and market experience in a particular niche that had her stating – “it’s as if this job was created just for me”. The twists, turns and detours that she had followed on her life’s path made her the perfect candidate. She got the job. And it felt to her as if it came out of nowhere.

That preparation was significant. Not just the technical expertise and employment history but also the personality – a curiosity and transparency that, I am certain, makes her a pleasure to work with. It’s a complete package and it’s not limited to education and core skills training. Life experience plays a role in this whether we recognize it or not.


This past week, a unique project dropped onto my holodeck. I have been coaching and playing a Sales role for over a year. An IT style project presented itself and, I have to admit, I got excited. It’s a finite effort and would allow me to use my Project Management and analytical skills to work with a team to transition to a new system over the next couple of months. I honestly thought that I would never look at this sort of project again – been there, done that. I have skills to help frame the scope, define the problems and opportunities and execute some of work required.  I guess that I’m lucky!

So, now I’m looking at how this project will impact my day to day life. I have a decision to make. I love a challenge but I’m not willing to overburden myself at this stage of the game. In some respects, it’s like a test. I’ve gotten really good at protecting my boundaries – something that I didn’t even know how to acknowledge when I was a full time IT professional. The selection criteria has changed dramatically for me and I’m shockingly comfortable with that. 

How to proceed?

I’d like to do this and I am looking at the parameters from a couple of different angles. The old Wendy would have said yes and then jumped in to do whatever needed to be done to make the project happen – trying to do it all by myself. Now the tendency is to ask questions like what needs to be done and who is the best person for each part. How can I collaborate with others to contribute to the success of this project? Heck – how do we define success in this project? I now understand that part of that success means that the entire team contributes and no one gets saddled with too much work. The Needs Analysis goes beyond the actual work to be done. Over the next few weeks, I will find out how lucky I am. There’s another saying that comes to mind “Sometimes, we have to be careful what we wish for – we might just get it!”

Parting Questions

So, what life experiences have you gained that make you uniquely qualified for a particular role or opportunity? How will you measure the fit and decide if it is the right decision for you?

This week’s art is a watercolour of my dog Reeses, He’s getting older and I’m waiting on some blood test – hopefully with some good news. I guess we’ll see how lucky he is.

Have a great week!

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