Just two days after my Game Plan column about luck went live on FoxBusiness.com, The New York Times ran a piece on the front page of the Sunday Business section called What’s Luck Got to Do with It? Essentially it’s a study-based version of my large message about luck, adapted from Jim Collins’ and Morten T. Hansen’s book, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.
I love that they coined the term “return on luck” or “ROL.” That’s the key to what they’ve determined about luck, good or bad — whether or not you do something with it. The whole piece is worth a read, but the conclusion sums it up beautifully:
After finishing our luck analysis for Great by Choice, we realized that getting a high ROL required a new mental muscle. There are smart decisions and wise decisions. And one form of wisdom is the ability to judge when to let luck disrupt our plans. Not all time in life is equal. The question is, when the unequal moment comes, do we recognize it, or just let it slip? But, just as important, do we have the fanatic, obsessive discipline to keep marching, to push the opportunity to the extreme, to make the most of the chances we’re given?
Getting a high ROL requires throwing yourself at the luck event with ferocious intensity, disrupting your life and not letting up. Bill Gates didn’t just get a lucky break and cash in his chips. He kept pushing, driving, working — and sustained that effort for more than two decades. That’s not luck — that’s return on luck.