I was lucky, says founder of Cirrus Logic Suhas Patil. He was moving office in Silicon Valley when I met him and we conversed amid boxes of packaging material. Even here I have been lucky, he says. “We are moving to bigger premises, better located and cheaper.” (That wasn’t really luck. The tech boom was tapering off and plum locations would soon be available for a song.)
Patil says he was lucky when he qualified for IIT. Many of his friends from his hometown — Jamshedpur — had applied but only he made it to the institute and department of his choice. “Later, I was lucky to get a break in the US,” he adds.True, Patil was in the right place at the right time. But all his life was a preparation for that destination. Men and women make their own luck. The princes of Serendip have disappeared along with the civil war in Sri Lanka.Patil, an entrepreneur and a successful angel investor, had to have special talents to reach where he has. Many of us in ordinary, humdrum jobs need a different set of skills to be “lucky”.
The first thing you need to do is learn how to get along with people, even the rogue who sits in the next cubicle and sends dirty pictures to the women in office. He hasn’t got caught yet, so he must be knowing a thing or two better than the company’s IT department. The office has suspicions. But the fact that nudes continue to proliferate shows that people are prepared to put up with his antics because of the value he brings to the table. He is a man with a problem. Can you help?
Second, never become the man with the problem. Yes, it is quite possible that you are the most intelligent guy around. You can do much better than your boss any day. But if you go around telling the world that, your boss, your colleagues and the HR department aren’t going to be amused. Reserve it for pillow talk with your significant other, unless the significant other happens to be your boss.
Contradictorily, you should also make efforts to be the most intelligent guy around. Take up courses in areas you are not involved in but feel you should know about. Expand your knowledge domains. When your colleagues ask you, talk self-deprecatingly about going back to school. But make sure the top brass get to know about the skills you have added.
All this seems obvious. But there are still many who believe in luck. A study by jobs networking portal LinkedIn says that 84 per cent of 7,000 professionals surveyed believe in career luck. A survey by recruitment site Monster India has 80 per cent of the 4,000 respondents in the online sample agreeing that luck has played an important role in their careers. In a way, this is a form of escapism. If luck rules the world, you can’t be blamed for things that go wrong. One choice is Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be). The hit song from the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Man Who Knew Too Much is fatalism. And Indians have been famous fatalists. Que Sera, Sera was in the fifties. The wiser man goes back earlier still to Shakespeare: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
But the believers are not about to be convinced. In the UK, they get out of the right side of the bed. In Hong Kong, feng shui for real estate is on a low key thanks to the economic crisis. Feng Shui for jobs is in. A Red Dragon and the East Wind, when you also have a wind of the prevailing house, will get you the best job going. You can then yell Kong and claim Mah Job. The tiles have fallen in your favour.
Tips to cultivate luck
Be humble. Increase your influence. And the best way is through cultivating something counterintuitive — humility.
Roll up your sleeves. 70 per cent of the sample
in a LinkedIn survey said a strong work ethic was the number one thing that makes someone lucky.
Be generous. Never lose the spirit of generosity. It pays off in the long run.
Be ready. Many people could have done what successful entrepreneurs have done. But they didn’t have the guts. That’s not luck — that’s return on luck.
Go with your gut. As the late Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will connect in your future.”
Simply believe that you are lucky. A recent study found that simply believing you are lucky can create positive outcomes.
Adapted from Six Ways to Make Your Own Luck, Inc. magazine