Luck Is Bullshit Opportunities are created by the way in which people interact with situations and justify their experiences. People with good luck didn’t bathe in unicorn farts. They made well-informed decisions, said yes to opportunities, were open to tackling challenges, and didn’t focus on how they were wronged or how lady luck neglected them. They face roadblocks or setbacks, bypass them, and forget about them Luck is simply the result of moving forward with an equal blend of optimism, persistence, and situational intelligence.
We all experience failure differently. The one truth that is the same for all of us is that we will inevitably fail. Some of those failures will be big, some of those failures will be small. However, it is easy to look at our own failures and to beat ourselves up over them Often we look at those around us, or those we aspire to, or even those we dislike and mark our successes and failures against theirs. This is an inescapable part of being human, it’s also grossly misleading and a disservice to ourselves.
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Why? Because people rarely advertise their failures. Even in the peer-reviewed academic world, there is a huge problem with misleading findings, not because the positive research isn’t valid or good but because the failures the negative findings or failed experiments are rarely disclosed or talked about. It is painfully difficult, but the truth is that we learn the most from our failures. The issue isn’t the failure itself. It is how we respond to it and what we do next.
As part of a deeply frustrating and prolonged job search in my late 20s, I trudged through numerous interviews. One of the most difficult questions to answer was the question, “Have you ever failed at something, and if so, what was it and how did you respond?”. I knew that I had, of course, failed at things. But, as I sat wracking my brain I struggled to recall a failure of any consequence.
Eventually, I realized why I’ve trained myself to learn what I can from a failure and then to put it behind me and to progress. It’s no easy thing to do, and it took years of working on accepting that I cannot excel at everything and that there will be missteps. It wasn’t until I truly delved into my past experiences that I was able to recall specific incidents. They remain uncomfortable for me to dwell on, but I also got what I needed from them
The moral of the story? Don’t ignore or pretend you didn’t fail or make mistakes but at the same time don’t get lost in self-pity or excessive over analysis. Accept that they are part of life and move forward.
One area I still struggle with is accepting a simple learned truth: the fear of failure is often significantly worse than the feeling of failure itself. Quite often we fail to chase opportunities, initiate conversations, or pursue opportunities out of a fear of what will happen and the judgment and horrible feeling that will ensue if we fail. The truth is that these are often grossly overstated and things rarely work out the way we imagine they will. Moreover, hesitation and fear that keep us from acting are often what facilitates and brings failure to fruition. I know this, I have accepted this, but I still have to fight myself on a regular basis to push past that fear and to pursue challenging or “risky” opportunities as they arise.