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How to Turn a Little Luck Into a Lot of Success

Someone once said that getting ahead comes from being in the right place at the right time. And most of us would agree that luck does seem to play a role in the paths we take in life and maybe even in how things turn out in the end.

But here’s a question. What if you find yourself in the right place at the right time without the right skills to act upon it? Thinking about such things, it was science giant Louis Pasteur who said “chance favors the prepared mind.” And that feels about right. Through education, hard work and experience, it seems clear that the more prepared we are, the luckier we will appear to be.

But is having the right skill set enough? There are many talented people who never seem to develop their full potential. Perhaps there are certain habits or character traits we can develop or strengthen that will help us make the most of opportunities that come our way. Here are three for your consideration:

Pay attention  When lady luck shines upon you and presents you with a golden opportunity, it probably won’t be all that obvious. It’s usually only in retrospect when the size of an opportunity becomes clear. In fact, often the biggest ones, like the rise of social media, are only initially grasped by a few pioneering individuals. So be alert. When people say you can make your own luck, a lot of what they mean is that we just need to recognize the luck, or opportunities, we’re being given.

Be optimistic  If deep in your heart you’re not convinced that things will work out, it can keep you from acting when the right situation comes along. After all, no one ever really “knows” they’re going to be successful. And there are bound to be obstacles along the way. So you’ve got to keep your doubts in check and continue to believe in your outcome. Just create a clear vision of where you want to go, keep moving and typically you will get there.

Have courage  Since making the most of an opportunity often means thinking about things differently than those around us, it’s essential to have the courage of our own convictions. Some of today’s greatest entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk or Tina Brown, can even look a bit fanatical to the rest of us. But that’s really just the uncommon strength of their belief in themselves coming through, keeping their thinking original and helping them make the most of every “break” that comes their way.

For a deeper dive into these ideas, check out this recent Wall Street Journal article, To be Successful, Make Your Own Luck.

In the meantime, as we approach St. Patrick’s Day, may the luck of the Irish be upon you. Then again, if you pay attention, stay hopeful and keep believing in yourself, you could discover you’re already a lot “luckier” than you thought.