What's luck got to do with it?

“I was just lucky”

Does that sound familiar? I’m guilty of saying those exact same words too. When we are asked about our achievements, it can be all too easy to downplay the hard work and effort that went into achieving our goals. But remember - luck is a myth.

Attributing our successes to an external force is not a new concept, in fact it is a very well known psychological phenomena. Our ‘locus of control’ (LOC), as psychologists call it, is our habitual tendency to assign reason for a particular experience. We either ascribe external factors like luck, the weather, timing (external LOC) or internal factors like our own efforts and abilities (internal LOC). When we attribute our success to luck, we take away from our own self worth. We are effectively saying that we did not deserve this achievement, which is inherently wrong. Because when you think (really think) about how you achieved things in your lives, you realise that you set yourself smaller goals, you persevered, you developed the necessary skills and you made connections to make it all happen.

It’s not easy to change how you think about situations that happen to you, but becoming aware of your habits is the first step. Realise that you have control over your life, you are the one putting things in motion and ultimately you are the one who decides where you will be - don’t leave things to chance.

We need to make a conscious effort to develop the right attitude to succeed. Creating the mindset to achieve goals means having an open mind and a positive attitude to change; it’s the only way you will be in a position to take advantage of new opportunities that present themselves and ultimately have the courage to seize these opportunities. Because that is where the ‘luck’ is; it’s using these opportunities. If you are determined to achieve your goals you need to take the leap and have the courage to take a risk on yourself. 

The flip side of locus of control, and a very interesting detail is that some people have the habit of blaming failures on external factors, in an effort to absolve any responsibility, whilst during moments of success people praise themselves for the hard work they put in. I think that this way of handling any kind of failure isn’t always healthy. It’s important to take note of the failure and address where things may have gone wrong, and potential points of improvement. At some level, you need to take a share of the responsibility for things not going the way you intended. Whether that be not putting as much study hours in for an exam, inadequate preparation for an interview or not making the effort to communicate in a relationship. 

A challenge in life is not always caused solely by fate or by your actions, it’s important to realise this and not be too hard on yourself. The most you can do is try your hardest in everything that you endeavour. Knowing that there was physically nothing else you could have done can make it easier to accept failure and move past it.