Bonne Chance

As I searched for inspiration for today’s post, out of the blue, my husband (who believes in serendipity) forwarded WSJ article You Call That Lucky? Actually, Yes by author Anne Kreamer.

Kreamer writes that, although she’s been reluctant in the past to attribute successes to luck  (“circumstances beyond my control”), she recently reexamined the idea: perhaps luck played a part. Looking back at her professional journey, she describes “lucky moments” that presented themselves, and when opportunity knocked, she was prepared: she had worked hard. Her conclusion: Reasonable success = [good] luck + preparedness.

But we all know that luck isn’t always good. Kreamer provides an example of a situation that “looked like” bad luck, but wasn’t: it led to a better position and good fortune.

I believe in fate, in serendipity — in luck, whether good or bad — but I prefer the French word, chance. Why is it that, when circumstances beyond our control lend themselves to aid us in achieving our goals, we don’t want to call it (good) luck, but choose instead to claim all the credit? And why, when different, uncontrollable circumstances lead to the opposite, we’re so inclined to blame bad luck rather than ourselves?

I’ve had some professional and personal good luck, but I’ve also had my share of the opposite. But as I dealt with those unfavorable, unfortunate events in the past, I did the best I could. I survived. I worked, as Kreamer says one must, believing that my luck would change. When my husband and I faced a financial crisis in our twenties, we felt alone and snake-bitten. Blaming bad luck (at least, partially) then, rather than ourselves, or worse, each other, helped us get through it. But we also took responsibility for our situation and came together as a couple, learning from our mistakes.

Since then, we’ve faced many other challenges and trials professionally and personally. Just in the last few years, we’ve lost both our fathers and have watched our youngest son survive brain cancer. But my husband and I have also had a lot of (good) luck, and sometimes the difficulties we have faced together have turned into blessings. We’ve stayed together long enough — thirty years, today — to see a lot of things change. Luck can change, fortunately.

If you just give it a chance, and work hard.

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