Here recently I was having a conversation with a young man who is working on his undergraduate IT degree, and he asked me the following question:
“Dr. Flores, do you think luck has a big impact on a person’s career?”
I almost responded with my canned answer, which goes something like this:
“Daniel, luck is for people who are mostly unprepared for the future.”
The Luck Factor
While I do not recommend banking on luck, there’s no doubt that some opportunities arise without someone doing much to deserve them.
For example, being in the right place at the right time can lead to a new career. There’s also the benefits one can gain by meeting an influential person unexpectedly.
However, for the majority of people in the majority of situations, breakthroughs only happen when they are intentionally trying to make things happen.
Kellogg Corn Flakes
On the surface, one would think that the Kellogg’s product development team spent years creating the Corn Flakes brand. In other words, that it started with market research, choosing the product name, writing the slogan, designing the logo, and so on.
In 1894, John Kellogg was employed as a medical superintendent at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. His brother worked with him at this health facility, and one day they put some wheat on to boil. Sidetracked with other duties, the wheat cooked too long.
After removing the wheat from the stove, they attempted to roll into dough but, to their surprise, the wheat separated into flakes. From this result, the Kellogg brothers’ imagination was sparked, and they discovered that they could bake these flakes into a crispy snack that could be marketed to the masses.
Oh … where does the corn name come into play? After some experimentation, the brothers learned they could get the same effect by substituting wheat with corn.
Thus, Corn Flakes!
The reason I share the Kellogg Corn Flakes story is to show that intentional action is necessary to create opportunities. Yes … there are some who will say the Kellogg brothers were lucky, but that’s a superficial and naïve perspective that should be quickly discarded.
Here are a few recommendations to creating your lucky opportunities …
- Show up. When you are visible to others, there is a high likelihood you will move closer to the front of the line.
- Risk it. In some cases, you will lack the qualifications and experience for a certain opportunity. The fact is that you will never be fully qualified for anything, so why not take a chance and accept an opportunity that requires personal growth.
- Be prepared to ask. In many cases, offers will not be made to you … so ask for what you want.
- Keep asking! An excellent tip is to keep asking for a chance. When there is something of value at stake, you can rest assured that it will take effort on your part. Don’t worry about being rejected. This is just another opportunity for you to keep asking.
Let’s go back to the Kellogg story for a bit … that discovery happened in 1894! Think of the huge return on investment that has occurred for that company in the past 126 years!
The intentional action taken by the Kellogg brothers created an empire … and we now know that luck had little to do with it.