The One Thing Successful Leaders Ignore
March 18, 2015

The One Thing Successful Leaders Ignore

by Brian de Haaff

On Sunday, I wrote about The One Sign You Will Be Wealthy. As a parent and a leader, I have written before that I believe being rich is about learning what makes you happy and finding sustainable happiness.

It is not easy to find sustainable happiness, but it is clear that with determination and a goal-first mentality, it is possible to do what you love.

My post on Sunday was different, though. It explained my theory on how to become financially wealthy. I wrote that you need to “own it” — an asset that is in demand and growing in value. It definitely touched a nerve, as nearly 400,000 people read the article and more than 230 commented.

I always appreciate reading what people take the time to write because there are so many different ways to think about topics like wealth. But I was surprised that the word “luck” came up so often. Comments like these about wealth were often shared:

I feel it does require a definite determination to not quit, which leads to the ‘lucky day’ all successful people I’ve read about come across which seems to transcend them to the next level of their endeavors.
Some individuals will forever chase the ‘dream’, not knowing that they provide the ‘luck’ they are looking for. If you are already in [the] process of building your wealth, when that opportunity comes, you will know what to do.

I often learn that the words I use mean different things to different people. I am most intrigued, though, when someone distills what I have written about to its essence. This comment did exactly that:

‘Owning it’ means that you are responsible for what happens to you, no one is gonna just give it to you.

That was an interesting twist on the notion of luck. For this reader, luck has nothing to do with success or becoming wealthy. That spoke to me because I believe it to be true. When I thought more deeply about this comment, I realized that the most successful leaders I know all ignore what most people obsess over.

The one thing successful leaders ignore is luck.

As a father and CEO, I spend a lot of time talking about what it means to do well and be good. My leadership theory is simple: have a plan, work as hard as you can, and never gamble on luck.

Successful leaders ignore luck for the following reasons:

You cannot train for it “Luck” is an abstract concept — it is not something tangible that education or experience will help you achieve. Since you cannot “learn” luck, it does not yield the same reward as working to earn a degree or excel at your job. Those experiences that propel you forward. “Luck” is just something you wait around for.

You cannot trust it Luck appeals to those who want a quick fix — that magical moment when you finally cash in. The problem is that luck is not something you can control or predict. Luck is completely random. Instead of seeing success as a series of small steps that pay off over time, you blindly trust good fortune will eventually find you. But it probably will never come.

You cannot know it to be good Luck is never one-sided. And I guarantee that bad fortune will find you. It must because life is sometimes unpredictable and cruel. We can control our behavior when things go wrong, but not everything that happens to us. So, when we wait for good luck to come our way, we may find that its evil twin is knocking at our door. You cannot know which luck will be yours.

Luck has a greedy influence, because we see others find it and hope it eases our own path. But, it is a distraction that leads to nowhere — which is why those who work hard and lead others choose to ignore it.

Relying on “luck” steals your confidence and belief that you will find your own way. A more surefire path to success is to work hard, own your choices, and keep moving.

How have you made your own luck?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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