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VOL. 129 | NO. 51 | Friday, March 14, 2014

Angela Copeland

Defining Luck

By Angela Copeland

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Some people seem to have all the luck. From the outside, they appear to get every promotion, make more money, drive a nicer car and live in a nicer house. It’s like they are surrounded by a ray of sunshine all day. This seems especially true of celebrities, company heads and professional athletes. How do they get so lucky, and when will my luck change?

I would argue that luck isn’t really luck at all. As Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Those we perceive as lucky are often working very hard behind the scenes to perfect their craft. They spend hours becoming their very best in hopes of shining in one important moment – whether it’s in a board meeting, on a stage or in a sporting arena.

In Malcom Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” he mentions the 10,000 Hour Rule. Gladwell believes that a large part of success is determined by how much you practice a specific task or skill. He says, “Practice isn’t the thing you do when you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

The same principle applies when you’re looking to grow your career. Seek out opportunities to improve your skills. At work, consider offering to assist someone with a task that’s outside of your expertise. Ask them to teach you a little about what they do. They’ll often be happy to help, and you’ll be given the chance to learn something new.

If you don’t have an opportunity to grow your skills at work, take charge and look outside of your cubicle walls. Consider donating your time to a local nonprofit or a friend who’s starting a business. For example, if you’ve wondered what it’s like to work in social media, volunteer to setup a Facebook page and Twitter campaign for a nonprofit that can’t afford to hire someone. If you want to become a better public speaker, volunteer to give a presentation to a community group on a topic you know about. This will help grow your skills, and give back to the community at the same time.

As you add more tools to your skill set, include them on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Consistently building on your existing foundation will help to boost your career’s value. But, don’t expect it to happen overnight. It takes months, years, and even decades to truly develop professionally.

Remember that today’s professional environment isn’t the one your grandparents grew up in. Employees can no longer sit back and assume their company will develop them over time. Even if you work full time job, you are still the CEO of your own career. It’s up to you to take charge of your personal career development.

Continuously looking for opportunities to improve, and practicing your skills is the one clear path to success. If you do these things and work hard, one day you may find yourself answering questions to your friends and family about how you became so lucky in your career.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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