As much as you try, you can’t control everything in your life, and as much as you’d love to learn one, there is no formula for magically conjuring business success. Serendipity often happens out of the blue – but what if I told you that you should be doing more to make it happen?
If you read as many business biographies and memoirs as I do, you might begin to see a pattern. We’re led to believe by the media and by general knowledge that success, sort of, just happens. If we see someone pop out of nowhere with a huge music hit or a blockbusting movie, we tend to assume that they could have been working at the supermarket a day or two before, but then, POW, they hit the big time. While this can be true in rare cases, the most common kinds of success result from years of hard work, and happen because the person is open to opportunities.
Planning for serendipity
In any Rob Moore podcast or book, you’re going to find encouragement and advice designed to inspire, motivate and prepare you for success. Success takes hard work as well as luck, but unless you are open to receiving that moment of serendipity, and unless you keep going until you find it, you are drastically reducing the chance of reaching where you want to be.
Some of the greatest success stories throughout history only happened because a person recognised that they had an opportunity, or spotted the potential for something good in what was first a mistake. As entrepreneurs and people striving for success, we have to acknowledge those special moments.
The classic example is the discovery of Penicillin by Alexander Fleming. Alexander’s aim was to disinfect bacteria cultures, but he failed to do so. When he found that the bacteria had been contaminated with mould, which had subsequently killed the bacteria, he could easily have disposed of the samples and revelled in his own failure – however, the accidental contamination led was in fact the discovery of Penicillin.
There are so many more examples: Post-It notes arose from failed attempts to make glue for paper; corn flakes came about because the Kellogg company cooked wheat and left it unattended for too long; the microwave exists because Percy Spencer was testing a magnetron and happened to notice that the candy bar in his pocket had melted in the process. As for celebrities, John Wayne was originally asked by someone else to appear as an extra while he’d been sitting on the side-lines of a film production; Harrison Ford was asked to be Hans Solo in Star Wars while fixing a door on set; Justin Bieber gained Usher as his mentor after he posted a video on YouTube of himself performing a song as a dare.
All these success stories were only possible through luck, and through being open to new experiences when they were offered. John Wayne could have politely declined the offer of work, Justin Bieber could have chickened out before uploading his song to the internet, and the Post-It note could have never become a product if the company had kept pursuing better glue or had folded under the weight of its failures.
Let’s look at some of the ways that you can increase your chances of bringing luck your way, and pouncing when you are offered the chance!
1. Get yourself out there
Success occurs due to hard work and getting yourself out into places where change takes place. While there is often a single moment that gives you a real chance at success in both life and business, those moments only occur when an entrepreneur gets out to events, dinners, launches, meetups and explores social media. By meeting new potential contacts, possible partners and clients, as well as making sure you say “Yes” to offers and opportunities, you automatically multiply your chances of finding results and making a real difference than those who don’t.
2. Finding the good in the bad
While every entrepreneur is likely to feel as though they have failed at different points during their route to success, sometimes those less successful moments serve to define you. How you respond to failure is one of the most important elements of business, so look for the Penicillin in the failed experiment, and the Post-It Note in the failed glue.
When I was an artist, I remember slipping onto the canvas of a painting as I was creating, and the effect that my mistake made to the picture was actually quite beautiful. Unfortunately, I never monetised the method I’d accidentally invented, but it was a new technique for me. In a very small way, just like the microwave, and just like the corn flakes, I’d found something magical in the mistake I made.
What’s stopping you from keeping an open mind to the things that don’t quite go to plan, and making the mistake into something special?
It’s amazing how many people come just inches away from their dreams and goals, but then give up just a moment or two before they find success in either business or life. One message that I have always tried to put across in every Rob Moore book and podcast is the importance of never giving up. Now, this doesn’t mean to keep plugging away at a futile endeavour or something that doesn’t allow you to feel passion or aligns with your values, but to accept that business success takes time.
At some point you will get your break, so when you have found a path that suits you, you need to keep chipping away until you succeed.
4. Have faith that it will happen
Your business success or success in life might not happen precisely in the way you expect, and if you are too specific or unrealistic about your goals then it is also less likely to happen, but you need the faith and optimism to believe that in some form you will succeed.
Let go of the idea that anything will be perfect or that your narrow ideal will come true and allow for success to come in whatever form you feel able to accept. Faith, luck and serendipity are intertwined, so be open to them all and never throw away the opportunities they forge.
5. Realise that it’s never too late
It’s never too late to start, and it’s always too late to wait. Colonel Sanders was said to be in his 60s or 70s before he found his recipe for KFC. Ray Croc, who started McDonalds, was in his late 40s, early 50s when he started his franchise model, and said about luck: “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more your sweat, the luckier you get.
6. When that moment comes, grab it
When you have that moment of serendipity, and when the universe opens up to you and offers you something special to take hold of, you’ve got to recognise it and grab it. Don’t let that moment pass you by – capitalise on it, leverage it, repeat it, rinse it, repeat again and never let it go.
Luck and success in both business and life don’t just “happen” – you create them for yourself.