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Optimize Blog - January 11, 2011 - 0 comments

“I would rather have a lucky general than a smart general…. They win battles, and they make me lucky.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890-1969, 34th American President
An interesting quote but, here at Zeitgeist, we subscribe to the principle that success in your career or in business comes from not just one but three key ingredients – the golden triangle of Hard Work, Smarts and Luck. The first two elements are tangible and can be influenced, the third is the unpredictable wild card.
Larry King once said “Those who have succeeded at anything and don’t mention luck are kidding themselves”. A fair comment, perhaps, but I’d bet my house that given the choice Eisenhower would rather have a lucky general that also worked hard and used intelligence to overcome their foes.
We’ve all heard the adage that you can “make your own luck” but how much of making your own luck is actually good risk management or is there really a mysterious unseen force (seemingly patented by the Irish) which exists in the world? Is being in the right place at the right time luck or is it the result of anticipating an opportunity others have not seen?
Well, there is no doubt that good fortune occasionally happens to people (and businesses) through no direct intent or action of their own. Take Mr. Darco Sangermano of Naples for example. During this years New Year celebrations the unfortunate (but soon to be ‘fortunate’) Mr. Sangermano was struck by a bullet in the side of the head and just behind his right eye. We should take a moment here to perform a public service announcement to our readers to let you know that apparently it is not uncommon for shots to be fired at New Year celebrations in Italy… so you might want to celebrate the New Year somewhere else in future.
Anyway, due to an incredible piece of luck our victim suffered no serious damage and is expected to make a full recovery. It appears that Mr. Sangermano had one of those skulls with the ability to slow a bullet down – being hard headed can obviously be a good thing. Even more spectacular was the fact that Mr. Sangermano, while waiting in a hospital bed for the doctor to arrive, felt a sneeze coming on and to the chorus of “Gesundheit!” from those around him, he sneezed and the bullet flew out of his right nostril.
Now, even if your surname is Sangermano, we would strongly suggest that you do not build your strategy and plans for the future on a foundation of hope. Rather, you should focus on the things that you can influence and, with luck, the intangibles will look after themselves. Even if you are lucky, most of the time you also need the other two elements of our golden triangle to be successful – putting in the effort and making smart choices. Also, ensure that you spend sufficient time planning. Planning and refining your strategy are critical roles of the leader and effective manager so don’t treat this work as something to fit in when you are not busy. Great planning is about actionable ideas that get executed.
Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you must, but we wouldn’t recommend it. After all, it didn’t work for the rabbit…

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