Good luck and its benevolent cousins, a break, a Godsend, or a windfall, are real. So are bad luck and its disgruntling cousins, karma, a turn of fate, or a misfortune. Luck is unpredictable. Luck, both kind and cruel, often comes to call on its own time schedule, regardless of how aware potential beneficiaries or victims may be, or how prepared they are to deal with luck’s consequences. Some leaders contend that since luck is so unreliable it should be ignored. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re a leader and you doubt the reality and the potential impact of luck, odds are good that you’re really new to leadership, or you lead in a really unusual environment.
The sources of luck, either good or bad, are frequently difficult to identify. Similarly, trying to determine why some folks and organizations are visited by good or bad luck more than others, can be exasperating and confoundingly counterintuitive. There are those who contend that one has little or no ability to either cause good luck or prevent bad luck. Others content that individuals and organizations may not have total control, but they can and often do set the stage upon which good luck plays out, and they can narrow the door through which bad luck often arrives. Wise leaders know that good luck generally comes cloaked in prudent thought, diligent planning, and purposeful actions. Conversely, misfortune more often than not arrives dressed in the garb of ill-preparedness, a lack of due diligence, or lazy mediocrity.
The unpredictable nature of luck makes it impossible to accurately build it into the metrics of planning, decision-making, problem solving, and action. Nonetheless it cannot be overlooked or ignored. Farsighted leaders have no delusion of total control over luck, nor do they see themselves hapless victims of the whimsical, capricious, and arbitrary nature of Lady Luck. Their appreciation for the realities of luck empower them to more successfully meet and overcome an ill turn of fate, and more effectively leverage windfalls.