Do we get lucky when an opportunity presents itself, or is it the result of a smile? In The Luck Factor (2003), the author, Richard Wiseman, PhD, states that “Lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives.”
I truly believe that every success I have had and every positive opportunity that has come my way is a testament to my love of meeting and speaking with new people.
All my life, my family and friends referred to me as the “lucky one” in the family. By the time I was 24, I had already owned my own home and had a flourishing career. Most things I set out to do worked out positively and there was always someone magically appearing to offer help and support at an opportune time.
Honestly speaking, I do not believe there is such a thing as luck. What I do believe is that what we define as luck is simply opportunity. Whether or not you capitalize on it is up to you. Your life can be as lucky as you make it. In fact, my mouth has always been my greatest asset, and has preceded everything I have done. I talk to everyone I meet – at the bus stop, in the supermarket, at conferences, online, in the cafeteria at work, at school and on the elevator, to name a few. In doing so, I have found that everyone you speak to, even the most unlikely of people, will leave you with a new perspective or idea or may even become an asset.
Here is a specific example:
While taking part in my firm’s Corporate Challenge in 2009, I decided to walk with several attorneys as opposed to walking with my colleagues in administration. Most people would have stuck to their peer group because there is comfort in familiarity. As it turns out, I engaged in a conversation with a then fifth-year associate which led to a debate on religious philosophy. Since we were in disagreement on several points, I decided to research the information that night, and emailed my findings the next morning. He responded that he was impressed and that he stood corrected. The question that followed blindsided me – he said ,“Dionne, we discussed many things last night, but what we did not discuss was how you plan to explore your intellectual curiosity. Do you have a plan?”
I responded that my ultimate goal was to practice law and hopefully fill his shoes one day. He immediately offered to help and told me to contact him when I was ready to start the process. He eventually became my attorney mentor and offered help and support in many ways. He even introduced me to another associate that was once an administrative assistant, and was now in her third year. So, he was not only helpful, but I’m sure he will be a great resource in the future.
So what factors played a role here?
- Always stay connected to the people you know, but be sure to meet new people by being open and friendly.
- Be conscious of your facial expressions. Always wear a smile and present a welcoming image.
- Make the most of chance encounters. I truly believe that every chance encounter is an opportunity.
- Never be afraid of your own voice. You may believe that you have nothing to add to a conversation, but new perspectives are always welcomed.
Many of you will be graduating soon. We often tend to believe that the hard work is done in school and once you graduate, the opportunities will come flying your way – this is not true. There are thousands of students graduating every year and it is your responsibility to stand out. I’m sure you have all heard of disgruntled graduates who complain that they cannot find a job in spite of earning a degree. What these graduates fail to realize is that the degree is just a tool. You have to make good use of it. You must sell yourself and treat every encounter, even if by chance, as an audition. My degree will work for me because I have built a network of friends, mentors and acquaintances that have a vested interest in my success.
Don’t wait for your degree to work for you. Instead, take a proactive role in making it work for you. Remember, the next time you say hello in the elevator, it may end up being your lucky day!
Dionne Adams is a legal professional with +15 years of dynamic industry experience. She is completing her final year at Strayer University with a concentration in Legal Studies and will begin Law School this fall. In addition to her professional and academic pursuits, Dionne is actively involved in charity work and is an advocate for battered women and disadvantaged youth. Dionne also enjoys reading, blogging, political debate, board games, fine art, fine dining and spending time with family and friends. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.