Important Notice: Beware of Job Scams. We have been alerted to recent fraudulent activity involving scammers posing as our company to contact job seekers. Read here for more information.
Don't Rely on Luck

You certainly don’t want to rely on luck in your career but you also can’t deny the positive role it plays in every successful person’s professional development.

We all know wonderfully talented and skilled individuals who haven’t reached notable levels of success. The question we all try to figure out is why? Former Slack CEO, Stewart Butterfield, will tell you that, “It’s difficult for me to think there was something wrong with them.” In fact he openly admits he thinks luck accounts for 98% of his own success.

He also says he seeks to hire people who can recognize the role luck has played in their own success as well.  Butterfield believes that the ability to acknowledge luck in one’s success is an indicator of their capacity to be empathetic, a critical trait even for product developers and especially for those in a service-driven industry.

Of course there are two kinds of luck…the luck that comes to us and the luck we create! Don’t forget, luck is also defined as being able to take advantage of the right opportunity when it comes along!

Whether you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder, start your own business or completely change your career path, here are four things you can do to be sure you’re preparing yourself for future success.

Key Takeaways

  • Luck can play a significant role in career success, but it’s important to also recognize the value of hard work and taking calculated risks.
  • Continuing education and staying informed about industry advancements can increase your value as an employee and make you more desirable to potential employers.
  • Networking is a critical component of career growth and can open doors to new opportunities and mentorship.
  • Being innovative and capable of executing ideas is a valuable asset to any organization.
  • Taking calculated risks, whether it be starting your own business or challenging the status quo in your current role, can lead to career advancement and success.

Keep Yourself Educated

It’s easy to end up in a bubble. Try to stay current regarding advancements and trends in your industry, pay attention to what your competitors are doing to stay ahead of the curve. Take a continuing education class that may broaden your world view and expose you to other facets or aspects of your business that you may not be an expert on but are interested in. The more you know, the more valuable you become to your current company and the more desirable you become to your competitors.

Don’t Stop Networking…Ever

When it comes to luck in your career, if you rely solely on submitting your resume to online job postings, you’re leaving your job search to chance and taking the control out of your hands. Be an active job seeker, many people today are finding new jobs and opportunities through networking. Your network will be there to lean on for advice, learn from and can even open doors to finding a mentor who can help you be prepared for your next step or challenge. Join a book club…let’s be honest, you’ll end up talking more about life than literature. Publish some of your own original content on LinkedIn…you never know who might be reading it, in or out of your direct network.

Innovate and Initiate

One of the best ways to move ahead is to prove you are capable of coming up with innovative ideas, processes or programs that add value to your organization or clients AND that you are also capable of putting those things in motion. A great idea without proper execution is just, well, a great idea. Keep a log of any positive feedback and impact your initiatives have had on the business so you can talk about them in quantifiable terms when necessary.

Take a Calculated Risk

There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe, but if you want luck in your career and to move ahead of the pack, it will usually involve taking a risk. Now, I’m not suggesting you cash out your 401(k) to start the vegan bakery of your dreams after baking your first cake, but going from any known to an unknown can be risky. Even switching jobs within your industry can be considered a risk, however the odds are more likely in your favor because you’ve done the work that allows you to feel confident taking on a new challenge. “Risk” could also be considered thinking outside the box, offering suggestions that are against the current norms, or respectfully disagreeing with the boss or CEO in an open discussion so both views are explored and your original thoughts are highlighted.

Originally published March 17, 2016. Updated March 3rd, 2023.