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?

Event 15/5: Greatness through Choice

Have you read Jim Collins’ latest book “Great by Choice”?  It’s a must read.

Jim is beaming into Barcelona LIVE 15th May from 14:30 – 18:00 – think of it as a private movie premiere – he’s one of the best presenters I’ve ever seen.  100 execs of companies gathering in Barcelona hosted by me (I will share some of my own ideas at 14:00).

If you have not read much of Jim Collin’s material I recommend you start with three articles:

What will you get by being there on the 15th May in Barcelona?
Watch my short video below (on the blog).

I want you to be there. This will give you tools to take your business to the next level. Bring 1 or 2 of your team – the material we will work on will have much greater impact if you can work on it as a team.

http://www.growthsummiteurope.com

LOCATION:
Barcelona Activa Auditorium
Llacuna 162
08008 Barcelona
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 starting at 13:15

All the best
Conor

Jim Collins on the Writing Process

My favourite business books include Jim Collin’s “Good to Great“.  It is easy to read, simple but clear about the hard decisions that differentiate the great companies from the mediocre.  His new book, “Great by Choice” is out now.  Jim Collins is renowned as someone who has intense discipline in his life.  I loved when I found this text he wrote about his own process of writing:

Jim Collins on the Writing Process 

Jim Collins

“When I first embarked on a career that required writing, I devoured dozens of books about the process of writing. I soon realized that each writer has weird tricks and idiosyncratic methods. Some wrote late at night, in the tranquil bubble of solitude created by a sleeping world, while others preferred first morning light. Some cranked out three pages a day, workmanlike, whereas others worked in extended bursts followed by catatonic exhaustion. Some preferred the monastic discipline of facing cinder-block walls, while others preferred soaring views.

I quickly learned that I had to discover my own methods. Most useful, I realized that I have different brains at different times of day. In the morning, I have a creative brain; in the evening, I have a critical brain. If I try to edit in the morning, I’m too creative, and if I try to create in the evening, I’m too critical. So, I go at writing like a two piston machine: create in the morning, edit in the evening, create in the morning, edit in the evening…

Yet all writers seem to agree on one point: writing well is desperately difficult, and it never gets easier. It’s like running: if you push your limits, you can become a faster runner, but you will always suffer. In nonfiction, writing is thinking; if I can’t make the words work, that means I don’t know yet what I think. Sometimes after toiling in a quagmire for dozens (or hundreds) of hours I throw the whole effort into the wastebasket and start with a blank page. When I sheepishly shared this wastebasket strategy with the great management writer Peter Drucker, he made me feel much better when he exclaimed, “Ah, that is immense progress!”

The final months of completing Great by Choice required seven days a week effort, with numerous all-nighters. I had naively hoped after writing Good to Great that perhaps I had learned enough about writing that this work might not require descending deep into the dark cave of despair. Alas, the cave of darkness is the only path to producing the best work; there is no easy path, no shorter path, no path of less suffering. Winston Churchill once said that writing a book goes through five phases. In phase one, it is a novelty or a toy; by phase five, it is a tyrant ruling your life, and just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public. And so, exiting the caving blinking in the sunlight, we’ve killed the monster and hereby fling. We love this book, and have great passion about sharing it with the world—making all the suffering worthwhile.”

My reflections

  • Writing is work.  You have to push through.  Every day.  It doesn’t get easier.
  • I am a different person at different times of the day.  I must use this better.  I start days slowly. I am inspired at midnight through to 3am.
  • Sometimes throwing everything out is progress.  It is not a step backwards.

What do you think?  Do you write?  What daily disciplines do you have?