Careers are developed through hard work, perseverance, dedication, and good decisions.
I suspect at some point we have all found ourselves saying some version of:
“Last night at the networking event, there was an available seat at the table where Susan Adams was sitting so I joined the table. I was lucky to have the chance to speak with her!”
“I didn’t have all of the qualifications for the Director of Marketing position; I’m lucky they called me for an interview.”
“I’m really fortunate that my boss recognizes my hard work and recommended me for a promotion.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines “luck” as:
To prosper or succeed especially through chance or good fortune
To come upon something desirable by chance
Here’s the problem with crediting your accomplishments and career advancements to luck:
It’s Not Sustainable – If your results are due to good fortune or chance, then leaders can’t have confidence that your high performance will continue.
It Signals Lack of Effort – Saying you were “lucky” makes it sound like you were surfing the internet and eating bonbons when the great results suddenly showed up in your lap.
It Discounts Your Journey – Careers are the result of many decisions, connections, mistakes, and learning opportunities. Even when not planned, your path is the result of action and effort... not luck.
The next time you’re about to say that luck has played a part in your career progression, consider reframing the situation with gratitude and good decision making. The “lucky” statements above sound much different below:
“I’m glad I decided to go the networking event last night. I met Susan Adams and we had a great conversation.”
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to interview for the Director of Marketing opening. My experience and leadership role in Corporate Communications make me a strong candidate for the position.”
“I’m pleased that my boss recommended me for a promotion. It’s a clear signal that he recognizes the value I bring to the organization.”
Still not convinced?
Think about it this way… If you were talking to Sue about a colleague who just received a promotion, and she said, “He’s lucky they offered him that promotion!”… Would that be a compliment? Does Sue’s comment leave you feeling like she thinks Joe deserved his promotion?
I suspect your answer is “no”.
When you frame your success and career steps as “lucky”… you’re leaving the same impression about your accomplishments.
If you win the lottery, that’s luck.
Winning in your career requires grit, hard work, and passion.