Success: It is not luck, it is Return on Luck

Last week, I listened to Jim Collins at the Growth Summit in Barcelona.  He shared 4 hours with us via video.

There were three concepts that he shared with us that really struck a chord with me.  Today I wanted to put down my thoughts about the final concept that Jim shared:  Return on Luck.

Are successful people luckier?

Do successful people, companies have more luck than unsuccessful people or companies?  Jim looked at the data.

A luck event is one that meets 3 criteria:

  1. not predictable
  2. has consequences
  3. outside of my control
Jim and his team looked at the history of successful and unsuccessful companies and identified every luck event that had occurred.  They found no difference in the rate of occurrence of luck events in the successful or unsuccessful companies.
Successful people are not luckier.
Jim and his team did find something important.  There is a big difference between successful and unsuccessful companies and people in what happens next.  The luck event happens… then what?  You meet the girl of your dreams and say “Nice to meet you” or you say “I want a coffee, will you join me?”  You meet a key person in the company you dream of working for… what do you do with this moment?
When something lucky happens in your life, do you use it?  Are you prepared for the luck events in your life?
The difference between success and non-success comes in how the luck event is used.  Jim calls this Return on Luck.
Return on Luck
Three years ago, I was in a session at IESE with 6 top Venture Capital gurus from USA and UK.  We were 35 people in the room including faculty and people from different MBA programs.  The session was informal and giving me and the others a chance to get to know the lives and ups and downs of these key VCs.  The session ran long.  At 3:15pm, 20 of the MBA students stood up and said “we need to go to class”.  This is true.  They are required to go to class.  But as I sat and watched them file out of the session I asked myself how many of these people were 2 meters away from the person who could make their dream happen?  …and they walked away.  Zero Return on Luck.
How is your Return on Luck?  How can I be better prepared to not walk away from my next luck event?