“To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages today that determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history—with a society that provides opportunities for all.”
~ Malcolm Gladwell
Luck is interesting. Some people believe in it. Some people ignore it. Some think it can be gained from objects like a rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover, or pot of gold. Whatever your thoughts on luck, it seems to all change when a Powerball jackpot sits at 1.5 billion. The long lines and hopeful faces are proof that luck is more than a figment of people’s imagination. There is a love-hate relationship with luck. When life is smooth sailing, we attribute our good fortune to luck, but when storms arise we blame misfortune on bad luck. However, is luck really good or bad, or is it our response to opportunities that makes the difference?
We are a world fascinated by luck. The age of social media has provided an insight into people’s lives like never before. Whether we know them or not, we judge other people’s lives and compare them to our own. We have become a culture of discontented people. We make excuses for our shortcomings and blame luck. We say things like, “well, that was just a lucky break” or “she’s lucky to have come from a good family.” However, these statements cause us to overlook the work, choices, and opportunities that go along with luck.
Luck is not based on good or bad events that occur. Luck is what we make of the opportunities that arise daily. Luck is the choices we make every day of our lives. What we miss by falsely attributing success to luck is the opportunity for others to see that the same success is within their reach. Success is a series of choices we make when we are faced with problems, challenges, or situations. It is less about luck than about perception.
Similarly, the rhetoric surrounding higher education should be less about tradition and focused more on opportunities. Opportunities for working adults to have options that allow them to meet personal and professional responsibilities while achieving their educational goals. Opportunities for high school graduates to understand there are more options than a four year “professional” degree. Opportunities for students seeking to better understand the world in which they live by travelling and contributing to a global community. These options are less about luck than they are about communicating and providing pathways for opportunities.
Success should not be measured by numbers. Success should be measured by fulfillment. One person’s perceived luck is another person’s chosen opportunity. Luck is made up of conscious choices that require work, persistence, and failure. Some on the outside may see luck, but the successful see a moment in time when they embraced an opportunity.
How do you define luck?