I’m not a big believer in luck, it is the destroyer of ambition. I know this because it has lurked in my background, encouraging me to be a bit daft-slash-lazy at times in the hope that the one-in-a-million may happen without me having to lift a finger to encourage it. Of course, this never happens.
Once you unburden yourself of the notion of Luck and actually start applying yourself to making things happen, your eyes will open and you will see so many more opportunities in front of you.
This was a lesson I learned some 20-odd years ago. Back in those days, I make extra ca$h by selling vintage Star Wars toys at fairs. One day, someone came over and said “Brian May is over there”. Naturally, I thought this messenger must be having a stroke, until I noticed a nest of curly hair bouncing in my general direction. As a massive Queen fan, I took a moment to compose myself before gushing at his guitar-Godly feet. And, yes, he was wearing fucking clogs.
To not go on about it too much, I did get the better of my fanboy moment and chatted with him for about a quarter of an hour. Star Wars, Queen, Freddie and then I mentioned the band I was in at the time. If I were prepared, this would have been the moment I would have produced a cassette of my band (yep, THAT long ago) and thrust it in his hands. Alas, I was unprepared so gabbled on about my musical dreams for a bit – well aware that I was doing this at one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century – before meakly retreating back into my reverie.
Thankfully, Brian was a gent and gave me his contact details. I sent him tapes, he sent me encouraging letters and a signed Queen CD. Nice bloke.
Oprah was the first person I heard say the phrase “luck is preparation meeting opportunity”. Right up until my Brian May moment, I didn’t quite get it. Sure, if I was off to some kind of musical event, I would take tapes and flyers along with me. It never occurred to me to carry those things around with me ALL THE TIME. I got it.
Since then, I have religiously carried around with me flyers promoting whatever artistic nonsense I had spewed forth. This has served me well over the years and has lead to all kinds of fantastic opportunities. And those opportunities lead to others.
Case-in-point. We were doing a gig, fairly near the beginning of the band. It was in London, quite near a club called the Underworld. Vikki was friendly with the gig booker there so, just on a off chance, rang him to see if he was about. As it happened, he was, so popped in. He told us about a Misfits gig he was promoting, along with news of a new rock festival. Long-story-short, we got the support slot for the Misfits gig and played the festival. Six times. Including two in Ibiza. The first one resulted in a record deal.
What would have been if Vikki hadn’t taken that opportunity to reach out to someone? Nothing, that’s what. Sure, we might have heard about the Misfits, maybe even gotten the gig. But we would have been unlikely to have received the contact info for the main booker of the festival.
Preparation meeting opportunity.
OK, of course, chances happen. You might win the lottery. You might get run over. Chance. Coincidence. Leave luck for people who believe a weed with four leaves is significant, or that walking under a ladder will lead to calamity.
The most recent example I can think of happened just about a month ago. Vikki and I were in Hexham, a town nearish us. Walking by a road I noted on the back of a vehicle some kind of advert for a book. My first thought was “Oh look, an advert for a book”, but then the opportunistic side reared it’s fetching head and knocked on the surprised occupants’ window. Once they realised I wasn’t a murderer, we had the briefest of chats which continued in Tesco car park. The driver was an author/publisher and we have since gotten together to discuss something potentially very exciting.
Preparation meeting opportunity.
How can you apply this to your own life? Starting a business? How about practising your elevator pitch? In my life I have randomly bumped into many famous people, one of those being Richard Branson. Now, if I were starting a business and had my elevator pitch ready, that would have been a great opportunity. Looking for a new place to live? How about advertising yourself to prospective landlords in the regions you are interested in? That’s how Vikki and I found our dream place in our dream location.
Don’t rely on luck. It’s unreliable. Be prepared. Keep your eyes peeled and, when those opportunities present themselves, take a deep breath and go for it!