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May 17, 2022

Luck Is When Opportunity Meets Preparation

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The concept of luck is a misunderstood thing. We often relate luck to chance, that there’s a random probability that something can happen. While it’s true there is a relationship between luck and chance, it’s much more elaborate than calling them the same thing. There’s an expression from the Greek Philosopher Seneca that goes “luck is when opportunity meets preparation” and I've really found this to be true.

Chance is relevant to luck when you relate it to the first part of this expression - Opportunity. When something is an opportunity it simply suggests there’s potential that something can happen. An opportunity is just one option among many, and the fact that an opportunity exists does not guarantee that anything is going to come of it. There is an element of random chance that puts certain opportunities in front of you, we call this “catching a lucky break”, but that alone is not sufficient. Luck is only observable when that random, chance opportunity materializes into something good.

That’s where the second part comes in - Preparation. Being prepared increases the odds that an opportunity will yield positive results because you have built the skills, infrastructure, work ethic or whatever it takes to maximize the opportunity. You’re ready to make the most of everything in front of you because you have the right pieces already in place. And when that chance opportunity arrives, you can apply your preparation to convert potential into something meaningful.

One of the most successful golfers in history Arnold Palmer said something that perfectly summarizes this thought. He says “The more I practice the luckier I get”. Why is that? It’s because his practice has prepared him to seize the moment, and the more often that happens, the luckier you appear to be. Luck is just an observation that things seem to go right often. If that’s the case, then we all can be lucky by creating more opportunities and refining our skills.

I’d love for you to reflect on the role luck has played in your life - Do you consider yourself to be lucky?

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