Luck is Not a Business Model

My son William, an actor, student and short-order cook, recently sent me a blog post by Michael Ruhlman in which Mr. Ruhlman quotes from the book Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook  by Anthony Bourdain. Both profane and profound, Mr. Bourdain has made a career out of his eclectic experience as both chef and author, and his first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, rocked the culinary world and led to television fame.

The blog post is entitled “So You Wanna Be a Chef” and the excerpt from Mr. Bourdain’s book is a litany of all the reasons not to commit to attending culinary school and/or to the world of professional cooking. He ends his admonition to the reader by admitting that in spite of his own bad choices early in his career, including his battle with addictions, he got lucky. “And luck,” he writes,” is not a business model.”

Those words resonated with me and I hope they will with you, too. Don’t get me wrong–I believe in luck. Every time I circle the block looking for a place to park in downtown Wheaton, I call on the spirit of my deceased father whose “parking karma” was epic. Sure enough, a space opens up for me! I usually give a nod to the heavens and say, ‘Thank you, Daddy.” Is that luck or timing? I don’t question it. I’m just grateful.

My dad was also fond of saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” He was a big fan of the “luck-is-not-a-business model” school of thought. A child of the Great Depression, my dad believed in hard work and had my sister and brother and me apply for work permits before the candles were blown out on our sixteenth-birthday cakes. My parents, both influenced by the Protestant work ethic, insisted that we pay for half of anything we wanted to buy that was a big-ticket item. I’d been pocketing cash from a lucrative baby-sitting business since I was 12 and to my luck (there it is again) and delight, we lived next door to a couple who had two small children and who loved to party. This was back in the day when babysitters got paid fifty cents an hour–double after midnight. I committed to saving for my first pair of contact lenses which was going to cost around $100, an astronomical sum to me then. For more than a year I baby-sat to earn my half of the investment and never felt richer than when I had that $50 set aside. Lucky? Maybe. Lucky enough to have parents who taught me the value of hard work.

You’ve heard of the star who is discovered, an “overnight success” who ruefully admits in a magazine interview that there were 20 years leading up to that sudden surge of fame. Nothing happens overnight–at least not that I know of. Those of us who do strategic planning believe in the power of declaration, putting pen to paper (or cursor to mind-mapping for those with a bent toward technology), planting seeds today that we’ll harvest not tomorrow, not even the day after that, but maybe years from now. Success takes vision, patience, tenacity and grit.

And maybe just a little bit of luck.

[Photo by © Ralf Roletschek – Fahrradtechnik und Fotografie]

That Time in Between

I love this week between holidays. Christmas is over, save for the shopping for half-price Christmas wrapping, bows, and gifts for next year–and, of course, the clean-up. The New Year is just around the corner, bringing with it the chance to create something new, something profound, a blank slate to fill with accomplishments, achievements and even brand new mistakes. This week is a time for contemplation, planning, celebrating the victories of this waning year and anticipating the new year to come.

This is the time to complete the past and create a new vision for the future. What’s your vision for 2014? Do you have your “theme” for the year? Mine is “The Year of the EveryDay Diva.” I’ve redefined diva to mean a woman who 1) knows what she wants; 2) knows how to get what she wants and 3) honors the people who support her. This can be gender-neutral, by the way… guys can be “divos.”

As you peer into the future, what do you see? I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because too often they’re short-lived promises related to weight loss and going to the gym. But I do believe strongly in the power of intention and the law of attraction, another reason I like this time of year so much. We have this glorious week to think about what we want to generate in the New Year, declaring our intentions and deciding what it is, exactly, that we want to attract. Good health? Goes without saying. Properity and abundance? For everyone! Making a difference in the world through whatever gifts we’re given… that’s my intention for all of us.

Whether you create the future year in declaration, speaking it to others, through creating a collage with images from photos & magazines or updating your strategic plan, enjoy this week as a preamble to the year ahead. Take the time to congratulate yourself for all you’ve accomplished this year. Forgive yourself for what you missed. And document your vision for 2014. Next December, you’ll be glad you did.

Happy New Year!