by: Ellen J. Wallach
In 21st century America, we are brought up to believe that hard work + intelligence = success. The harder you work, the luckier you’ll be. This is the land of opportunity. Anything is possible. We were each in control of our own destiny. In the mid- 20th century, when I graduated from high school, the graduation speaker raised his black robed arms and said, “Go forth, the world is waiting for you.”
The older I get the more I feel that the larger percentage of life is about luck and not planning. Luck needs to be added to the equation: hard work + intelligence + luck = success. I have found that life is more like juggling. The left brain is logical, sequential, and loves to set goals and plan. The right brain is creative, intuitive, and spontaneous. We need to use both. If all we do is plan and only keep our eyes on our goal, we may miss out on opportunities that come along. If all we do is sit and wait for Prince Charming, well.… We need to juggle. Plan and be open to what life might bring. Most of us have been taught the planning piece. Let’s talk about the other: serendipity, synchronicity, coincidence, grace, and luck. We are not in control of our luck, but sometimes we can influence it. Here are some tips to consider:
1) Be a sightseer. Stop, look, listen, smell, taste and feel life.
2) Waste time. Try some of life without an agenda. Save room for spontaneity. If you don’t leave room, luck can’t happen.
3) Find your passion, rapture, truth, bliss. Follow it. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream.” He didn’t say, “I have a plan!”
4) Be open. Say, “Yes.” So what if you’ve never done it before. Be a life learner.
5) Ask dumb questions. You can’t learn if you don’t ask. Every expert began as a novice.
6) Don’t sit on the edge of your comfort zone. Risk. Stick more than your toe in.
7) When you’re stuck, be brave, be bold. Get out there and do something. Get started.
8) Take initiative. Talk to strangers (just don’t take candy from them!) Smile, stick your hand out and say, ”Hello.”
9) Fly with fancy. Catch your dreams. Play with nonsense. Imagination stretches horizons.
10) Make mistakes. You can’t grow, stretch, fly without them.
11) Wander around. The shortest distance between two points is usually not a straight line.
12) It’s OK to feel frustrated, frightened, uncomfortable, confused. You probably feel out of control. Relax. You most likely are.
13) Make connections. Don’t isolate yourself. Keep your network growing.
14) Challenge assumptions. There is usually more than one right answer. Explore different perspectives.
15) Appreciate. Let people know when and how they’ve helped. Remember to say, “Thank you.”
16) Take advantage of chance. Watch for opportunities and then jump on them. Carpe diem. Seize the day.
17) Believe in miracles. Life is an adventure. It rarely turns out the way you plan. David Ben Gurion said, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles isn’t a realist.”
18) And, then there is this wonderful quote by Gail Godwin in The Finishing School.
“There are two kinds of people, she once decreed to me emphatically. One kind, you can just tell by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing. They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts (a lovely Elizabethan word that means an agreement between lovers, a meeting) with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive. You must be constantly on your guard, Justin, against congealing.”
So in conclusion, be constantly on your guard against congealing!
Anyone out there have your own “home-grown” tips for success. Share them with us!