By any measure of success, I’m doing pretty well: semi-retired by 36, living in a beachside holiday paradise with the woman of my dreams and my amazing son. I have the complete freedom to go surfing whenever I want without needing to factor ‘being able to feed my family’ into the equation and the time, space, and resources to essentially pursue any life-path I want.
When I tell people about this, the most common response is “Wow, you’re so lucky!”, like I fell out of bed one day and hit my head on a naked supermodel wheeling a stack of gold bullion into my loungeroom because there wasn’t any room left on her parents’ superyacht.
And yes, luck is the reason why I’m successful and you’re not, but not in the way you think.
The truth about luck and success
When someone says “Wow, you’re so lucky!”, what they’re actually saying is they believe the secret to living a remarkable life is not hard work or continuous improvement or taking calculated risks. It’s luck.
It’s walking the same well-trodden path as your parents and friends and hoping that some miracle of fate delivers a golden opportunity into your lap without getting out of your sweatpants.
And not only will this golden opportunity fall into your lap, but you’ll be miraculously blessed with the skills, knowledge, experience, and personality characteristics necessary to turn this opportunity into a raging success with die-hard fans all over the world desperately clawing down your door to get to the front of the line.
And look, they’re obviously right. My success is the result of luck. All of it.
I was so lucky to be homeless when I was three. I was even luckier to have crippling social anxiety and only find comfort eating lunch in bathroom cubicles.
And probably luckiest of all was when my first business partner stripped every cent of working capital out of our first business without telling me whilst I injected saving from my job outside the business so we could still keep operating.
Luck. All luck. Opportunity after opportunity dropped into my lap without me doing anything.
- My success had nothing to do with questioning everything I’d been told about how to live a ‘good’ life and finding my own path
- My success had nothing to do with taking a chance on a risky venture with only a limited potential of success because I refused to suffer through the same frustrating existence that I saw my work colleagues grinding through every day
- My success had nothing to do with spending 7 years working 40 hours a week trying to build a business that made no money on top of my 25
houra week bartending job I took to make sure I had enough food on the table while I learnt about how to make an online business successful
- My success had nothing to do with refusing to let my crippling insecurities, doubts, and fears rule my life
- My success had nothing to with devoting hundreds of hours to learning about personal development and thousands of hours implementing everything I discovered
- My success had nothing to do with finding ways to sidestep my personal limitations and biases to ensure I was working with facts and data rather than blind assumptions
- My success had nothing to do with consciously deciding to learn from every mistake I’d ever made to ensure I didn’t make the same mistakes again
It was all an accident. A happy accident. That’s it. That’s why I’m the poster-child of early retirement and lifestyle design. Just one stroke of good fortune after another.
Sarcasm aside: while luck has played a small role in my success*, the difference between myself and those still grinding through the 9-5 isn’t chance delivering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that required no skills or
The secret to my success was forging a vision of the life I wanted to live and being unwilling to settle for anything less. It was refusing to let anything stand in the way of me achieving my dreams, regardless of my starting point.
My life isn’t an accident. It’s not something I fell into by chance and haven’t been able to dig myself out of. It’s the product of a conscious choice to step outside the well-trodden path and follow my dreams, regardless of where I started, what I started with, or the barriers that appeared on the way.
But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t play a role in the gap between you and I, because it does. It’s not the reason I’m successful, but it’s the reason you’re not.
The Reason You’re Not Successful
When you believe luck is the secret to success, it impacts every action you take and every decision you make.
When you believe luck is the key, you don’t actively search for opportunities, you push yourself to grow, you don’t consciously and deliberately cultivate the personality traits necessary to become successful.
You sit. And you wait. And you hope. And you dream. And you keep spending $5.47 on the weekly lotto auto pick hoping that 1:292,000,000 chance of winning Powerball is enough to drag you out of the rat race and into a life of luxury because the fact that success is all luck means there’s nothing you can do to increase the possibility of success.
- Luck is the reason people are successful so what’s the point in working hard?
- Luck is the reason people are successful so what’s the point in challenging your limitations?
- Luck is the reason people are successful so what’s the point in taking chances?
- Luck is the reason people are successful so what’s the point in stepping outside the box?
- Luck is the reason people are successful so what’s the point in consciously and deliberately improving yourself?
If luck is the reason some are successful and others aren’t, what’s the point in trying? Just stay in your lane, do what you’re told and hopefully lightning will strike.
If you spend your life sitting and waiting and following your parents’ middle-of-the-road life plan, the best you’re going to end up with is a middle of the road life. Not only will opportunities pass you by like ships in the night, but even when they do conveniently fall into your lap despite your best efforts, you won’t be ready to take them.
You won’t have the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to take control and launch head-first into a new world. They’ll get passed from unprepared hand to unprepared hand until someone with the foresight, determination, and ‘luck’ to consciously take control of their life takes them up and turns them into a success.
And look, luck does play some role in becoming successful.
You do need to be in the right place at the right time to find opportunities, BUT, what’s never mentioned by people who repeatedly cite this is that if you’re going to take advantage of those opportunities, you
Sitting around waiting for luck will leave you with nothing other than a lifetime of regrets and a dying wish you’d done something about it.
How to be successful
Now that you know that luck isn’t holding you back, the next logical question is: how can I be successful?
If that’s your question, I have some great news. The secret to living a truly remarkable life isn’t complex or intricate. In fact, considering how few people walk this path, it’s actually remarkably simple.
The secret to a rich, rewarding, and fulfilling life is: make continuous progress towards your vision of your ideal life.
If every moment of your day is spent making *any* progress towards your ideal life, then given a long enough timeline, you’ll eventually get there. It might not be today and it might not be tomorrow, but if you continue to make progress, you will make it.
And progress can literally be anything:
- Save an additional dollar
- Improve your physical health by taking the stairs instead of an escalator
- Learn something about your dream profession
- Start a conversation with someone you admire
- Choose the healthy option over your habitual junk food snack
- Challenge your personal limitations
- Implement a personal development strategy you’ve read
- Question something you’ve been blindly following
- Live up to your moral code rather than doing what’s easy
And if all else fails:
- Learn a valuable life lesson and make sure you don’t repeat it ever again
There are literally a dozen ways to take a step towards a remarkable life you could do, right now. Here are a couple of easy options to get you started: LifeOS Life Transformation Challenges
But, there’s one thing you need to do before you can take steps your vision of your ideal life: set your vision of your ideal life.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know:
- Which actions will take you closer and which will take you further away
- Which actions will make the biggest impact on your life situation
- Which actions will give you the greatest sense of achievement and success
If you’ve created a complete vision of your ideal life, start taking action right now and transforming your life. If you haven’t got a complete vision of your ideal life, this article will talk you through the basics.
So yes, luck is the reason I’m successful and you’re not, but not in the way you think. It’s not the secret of my success. Your belief that it’s the secret to my success is the cause of your lack of it. Waiting for luck to drop untold riches into your Christmas stocking means that unless you’re 1:292,000,000, you’re just going to be sitting and waiting while people who focus on cultivating the personality characteristics necessary for success, actively searching for opportunities, and taking the risks necessary to make the leap, live the life you dream about.
The secret to being successful isn’t waiting, it’s taking continuous steps towards your vision of your ideal life. This article explains how to create that vision and these challenges will help you take your first steps.
* I freely acknowledge that luck has played a role in my life success. I was born in a modern, western society and haven’t had to face the horrors of war or famine or genocide sweeping my home, family, and friends away. I have easy and reliable access to clean water, healthy food, and, for most of my life, safe and reliable shelter.
But, and this is really important, if you have the time, mental space, and desire to be reading this article on a personal development website, you probably have a similar amount of ‘luck’ as I do.