Do you believe things just magically happen to you? It’s such a nice thought. Or are you required to apply some effort?
I recently met a man that won £131M pounds in the Lottery and he said it wasn’t luck – he bought a ticket. But his chances were as good as anyone else’s. But he had to buy a ticket. Australian Olympic swimmer, Kieren Perkins won gold for his 1500 meters swim but he is quoted as saying that luck favours those who get in the pool … again and again and again. What he is saying is akin to ‘get your skin in the game’.
A lot of people want the medal … but don’t want to swim the laps.
I once spoke to champion swimmer Suzie O’Neil who said winning is straight up practice, hard work and showing up day in and day out.
She tells of how she trained in the Fortitude Valley swimming pool in Brisbane, Australia and her coach would say warm-up with 100 laps.
“I would get in the pool and start swimming with a colleague and while we weren’t racing we were pacing each other. At around the 90 lap mark my friend got out of the pool because I am aware she’s not there anymore swimming along side me. I know she’s only done 90 laps because distance swimming is all about counting.”
O’Neil says she finishes her 100-lap warm up and gets out of the pool and meets with the swimmers and the coach.
“OK, everyone do 100 laps?” And everyone says, “Yes”.
“I know my friend did 90 laps, but said she did 100. I now know I can beat her easily because she is training to fail.”
I trained three sales people recently and their job description says make 30 calls a day. I asked them to keep their stats and only one person did. That same person is also the highest performer. Top performers know the numbers. They don’t cut corners. They don’t fudge the data. There is no near enough is good enough.
If I say 30 calls – do 30 calls. Not 29 … or 5, do 30.
It is that sort of mundane rigour that drives success.
Artoro Toscannini was a journeyman cellist in an orchestra on tour in America.
Toscannini had a hobby. Every night he would take the musical scores back to the hotel and read them over and over for no other reason than to see how the cello fitted in to the overall scheme of things from the conductor’s perspective. While his fellow musicians were out relaxing, Artoro was reading the sheet music.
As it turned out – last minute – the elderly conductor fell ill as they were about to go on stage.
In those days conductors were only ever elderly. With such little time before the performance they tried to find another conductor with no luck. Someone in the orchestra knew that Toscannini’s knew the score backwards and suggested that he should conduct until a replacement could be found.
This was an outrageous suggestion because Toscannini was 26 at the time! Conductors weren’t youngsters!
But they were under so much pressure with no time to find a suitable replacement that Toscannini was asked to stand in until a replacement could be found.
For whatever reason, everything fell into place. Toscannini conducted with such passion and vision that the critics raved about the ‘new sensation’. The rest is history. People stared flocking to the tour to see the wunderkind!
Toscanini said it was serendipity. Toscannini’s famous quote is: Luck is when preparedness … meets opportunity.
He was simple prepared.
The Beatles racked up over 10,000 playing hours in Hamburg alone playing 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week for over three months. When they finally met George Martin in their first EMI, Abbey Road Studio session George Martin did not criticise their playing. He considers them an incredibly tight, disciplined band. The Let It Be rooftop session shows a band at the end of their career but still incredibly on game.
My brother is a chef and spent four years – alone – making sauces. A friend of mine, Jim Campbell is a master carpenter and spent seven years simply hanging window and door frames. I have now racked up over 26,000 coaching hours when the average coach has done about 3,000.
People often say I’m lucky. I am not. I just work harder on my game than most people.
What is the message? Create your own luck. Luck is simply doing what you do well … over and over and over again.
OK, YOUR TURN
Reflect on what you are good at. What are your talents? And reflect on how much time you have racked up to become lucky.
Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com
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© 2017 Andrew Priestley/TCE Ltd