What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

By Katie, 6:13 am

We all know that person who just seems to have all the luck. He’s the one who’s always yelling “Bingo” after only five numbers have been called. She’s the one who insists on sticking around for the post-race raffle – even though there are 5,000 participants – because she won a four-course dinner at the last one and a spa-weekend at the one before that. :roll:

Recently my mom shared with someone that I graduated with my master’s in the middle of May and began a new job on June 1. The person responded with something like, “That Katie, she sure is a lucky young woman. Things always just seem to fall into place for her.”

I gotta be honest…I sort of resent that comment. :-x

Yes, the circumstances surrounding my new job are pretty fortunate. While completing my graduate school internship, I sat in on a meeting with the Executive Director of a very influential foundation in the area. Right as I was preparing for graduation, a job opened up at his organization; he happened to remember me from the meeting, and called to ask if I’d like to interview for the position. Two weeks later I had the job.


I came across this quote from the old Roman philosopher Seneca, and I think it articulates my feelings pretty clearly: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

So yes, to a certain extent I was simply in the right place at the right time. But that’s not the whole story. Because many months earlier I had worked hard to secure an internship that would plug me in to the appropriate network. For ten months I worked my tail off at that internship in order to learn as much as I could while making a good impression on everyone I met. And I had been a stellar student and employee while in graduate school, so my references could honestly offer solid recommendations.

I am not trying to gloat here, honestly. Rather, I’m trying to say that while I was “lucky” to get the opportunity I did, I had also spent years preparing for it, though at the time I had no idea what it would be.

Sure, there are lots of things that can be chalked up merely to chance. We all know people who are blessed beyond belief even though they don’t seem to have worked for it. But that doesn’t mean we should just stop working; all that hard work is the preparation for some unknown opportunity down the road.

You just never know what the future holds – when your boss will notice all those extra hours you’ve been putting in, when the scale will budge after an inexplicable plateau, or when that publisher will stumble across your blog. But rest assured that when it happens, it will be because of a lot more than just a little luck. ;-)

What do you think? Are some people just luckier than others? Do you think there’s a connection between what we often label as “luck” and hard work/preparation?

21 Responses to “What’s Luck Got To Do With It?”

  1. You know, when I clicked over to respond, I thought I knew my answer. But I don’t. I’ll have to think on this one.

  2. I think that quote really sums it up perfectly. You need to be prepared for when opportunity presents itself, and sometimes you need to make sure you’re giving yourself the advantages by working hard, making a good impression, and being available. There are certain things in life that can be considered luck, but I think in the case of job opportunities, it might be good fortune that things lined up, but there is definitely a strong human factor.
    Congratulations on situating yourself in the right position in order to be ready and a good candidate when the job opened.

  3. This reminds me of the quote, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” So true.

  4. Jessica says:

    I am in total agreement with you. I also believe what is meant to be is meant to be. Sometimes you want something so badly, and are so dissapointed when it doesn’t work out, but can’t, at that moment, see how it wasn’t the right thing in your life. Then, when the right thing happens, you are so grateful (even if you don’t have this perspective until long afterwords!!). I’m trying to keep all of this is mind as I look for a job (it’s been three months now and I’m trying not to get discouraged!) Thanks for the reminder to be patient (I’m well prepared, just waiting for the right opportunity to click)

  5. Lauren says:

    I love that quote! I really believe that people are blessed for many reasons. I know that it seems “lucky” at times, but in reality, I think it’s more like these people have worked hard their entire lives and sometimes, life is easier at moments because of it. :)
    Have an incredible Friday!!

  6. I’m not sure I believe in luck – one of my favourite quotes is ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’ and I believe that 100%. I think sometimes people happen to have ever so slightly better stuff happen to them, but it all seems to even out in the end.
    Have a good day! :)

  7. Candice says:

    I agree with you 100%. There is always a certain degree of luck or fate, something like that. In this economy, there are so many people applying for one position, that it takes a bit of fate, luck, or something just to get noticed. For you, that could be the manager remembering you.

    But I wouldn’t resent the comment. You know you worked hard and that’s what matters. A lot of times people use comments like that just to convey respect or pride and don’t really look at what they’re actually saying.

  8. runblondie26 says:

    Some people certainly have more advantages in life (good genetics, well-connected families, education opportunities, etc.), thus making their chances for success much greater with effort. I do know one or two people who just seems to fall into lucky situations though.

  9. i would agree with what you said…there are times that i will get jealous of something that someone else has but the reality (and something i have to remind myself of constantly) is that they had to WORK for what they have, as do i.

    and besides, in my opinion, if you don’t have to work for it then you’ll likely take it for granted at some point, and no one wants to do that!

  10. Hmmm interesting question. I think some people are a bit ‘luckier’ or have more advantages in life, but generally I think if you put in the effort good things will come to you…though it might not always be what you expected.

  11. Congrats on the job! People who make comments like that are jealous! It’s ridiculous to say that it was “luck” after you have worked SO hard to get where you are! It’s not luck…you deserve it! You have earned it! People who say others are “lucky” just aren’t tryingn hard enough themselves (although I would argue my grandma is a pretty lucky gal who wins EVERY bingo or raffle she has ever entered..now THAT is luck!)

  12. Tamara says:

    Here’s another for the quote list from Thomas Jefferson: “I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it” :D

  13. “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”

    wow i really like that Katie! ive never heard of that or looked at it that way before. i was always told too that being lucky is a state of mind, just like how positive thinkers experience more positivity, lucky thinkers, just pick up/notice lucky situations more easily because theyre aware of it.

    i really love that quote tho, it resonates really well with me :)


  14. I think I’m a bit in the middle. My grandma always told me that I was born with a horseshoe up my butt (obviously you can see where I get my tact and ladylike vocabulary!). I think I’m more blessed. I do feel that sometimes lucky things happen, but I know that for the most part, I work hard for what I get, and there’s not a lot of coincidence that goes into it. Your quote is spot-on IMO.

  15. Sue says:

    I prefer the word blessed to the word lucky. Lucky is too random, and I believe everything happens for a reason.

  16. I do believe in luck but I also believe in what my husband calls, NAME IT AND CLAIM IT. He firmly believes that what you put out into the world is what you will get back!

  17. It’s frustrating when you know that you’ve worked really hard. It’s not like this opportunity was given to you. There is a big difference between finding a $20 on the street and landing a great new job. You’re doing awesome things with your life and that is all that matters!!

  18. sophia says:

    Great point, Katie. And honestly, I would resent that comment too…particularly because luck doesn’t just fall on lazy asses, as you said. Well, not exactly, but I just dumbed it down for me. ;-)

  19. Linda says:

    Katie, I know better than anyone how hard you have worked for things. And sometimes many blessings come from all the hard work.

  20. Barbara says:

    Hey, Katie…remember that history professor I told you about? one of his favorite quotes is from Thomas Jefferson – “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

    • Katie says:

      That quote sums up what I’m trying to say here PERFECTLY! That history professor – or, I suppose, Thomas Jefferson – is a very wise man! :)

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