photo by Scott Kelby

photo by Scott Kelby

The Secret of Being Lucky

Last time I wrote a guest spot for the blog a couple years back, I had fun giving folks a peek behind the scenes to meet the Photoshop Guys from a different perspective, so when Brad asked me to write up a guest blog post for Scott’s blog, I asked him what he wanted me to write about. He said, “Whatever you want.” Since I have my own blog, I already have an outlet for writing about stuff that interests me, like small business, marketing, freelancing, photography (from a budget-minded perspective) plus some gadget stuff. So I asked Brad once again, “Do you think I should write about one of those topic areas.” True to his job of not influencing the topic, Brad offered no help. I was on my own. Now, when I consider the guest blogs I enjoy reading the most, I really like the ones that inspire me. The brilliant photographers sharing insights and images.

My portfolio pales in comparison, so I won’t be inspiring you with images. Instead, I want to talk about something I have experienced myself dozens of times over the years and one of my favorite insights I’ve written about on my blog. (But I’ll still share some of my images anyway.)

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Some people believe in luck. More precisely, they believe that your thought processes alone can create luck. (There may be “pure” luck in very rare circumstances, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.) They suggest that if you wish for something hard enough… if you just imagine that it really will happen and you even live your life as though you expect this lucky thing will definitely happen, then almost magically, through the ‘Law of Attraction’ you will receive the great things you’ve wished for. There was a book and a movie all about this philosophy a few years back called “The Secret,” and it was a best seller and a huge hit. Oprah raved about it! — I just happen to think the entire premise is misleading at best.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely believe in luck and good fortune. But I don’t believe the ‘Law of Attraction’ works in isolation from preparation and work (usually hard work). You have to get off your butt and do something. You have to be prepared for “luck.” Sure, I believe that your strong desire for something to happen can certainly help clear the path for your wishes or dreams to come true, but the philosophy offered in The Secret is only half of the formula and it’s the easy, compelling half. It sells a lot of books if you just tell people that, all you have to do to be rich or successful or find your soul mate is to simply wish for it the right way, and wish really hard. Unfortunately you never hear about the other half of the formula. The part where people have to work hard to be ready for opportunities that present themselves. Having the right mindset surely helps, but preparation is critical too. I’ll give you a real-world example.

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As NAPP’s Executive Director, I receive emails from all kinds of folks and one in particular caught my attention. It was from somebody who was obviously frustrated. In a nutshell his email said, ‘Stop sending me emails about all kinds of stuff I can’t afford.’ Rather than just ignoring the note or simply taking the guy off our email list, I decided to email back and see what I could find out. I asked him what specifically were we sending him and what would he like us to stop sending. His reply revealed the source of his frustration. He had been laid off from a Fortune 100 company after 20 years and his hobby of photography had suddenly become his only source of income, and we were sending him monthly reminders about the upcoming Photoshop World convention which was out of his budget range. I replied that I was sorry to hear about his job loss and I certainly understood the budget thing, but I told him about a great opportunity. (For the record, I thought this was a real stroke of luck for this person but I’m careful about mentioning luck to people who are recently unemployed.) I told him that one of our goals at Photoshop World is to get lots of people to come to the trade show, so we have no fewer than three full-size training stages with classes that run all day long and, while you can’t see all the classes paid attendees can, the classes on the show floor are really worthwhile and you can get into the trade show for free for two of the three days if you just sign up online. And Photoshop World was in this guy’s home town so he only had to drive there. No travel expenses. What’s more, my heart went out to this guy because of his job, so I invited him to come to the trade show on the attendees-only day as my personal guest. — He replied that, ‘I’ve been to those kinds of things before and I never get my questions answered. No thanks.’

It struck me that, in spite of his recent job loss, this guy had all kinds of “luck” available. Our biggest annual convention was in his town so he didn’t have to pay to travel. There are two days of really great classes free to the public on the trade show floor, and he even got a pass for the third day. Classes and vendors all having to do with his newly chosen profession. Seems pretty lucky to me. I guess he just wasn’t in the right state of mind for a lucky break.

At that very same Photoshop World I met a young man who had traveled from Iran to attend, so he could meet his Photoshop training heroes and photography heroes. He was absolutely thrilled to be there and I heard a bit of the story behind what it took him to get to the US (he speaks quite good English). Apparently just about everybody who goes to the US State Department office in Iran gets their visa application rejected almost immediately. But this guy was so passionate about his photography and he just really wanted to go to Photoshop World. He has all of Scott’s, Matt’s and Dave Cross’s books and since they’re not sold in Iran, he had to get them from an uncle in Italy. And when he went to the State Department to present his request and go through the interview, he pulled out his portfolio and went through it and talked all about Photoshop training (he’s a Photoshop trainer in Iran) and photography and he even talked about how cool NAPP is. Turns out the State Department official had heard of NAPP and knew what he was talking about and knew he was serious about Photoshop and photography. His visa was granted. It sure was lucky that the State Department official was a bit of a photo enthusiast and knew about NAPP.

No matter what your goals are personally and professionally, there will usually be some collection of “lucky breaks” that help you accomplish goals or realize dreams, but if you aren’t ready for the lucky breaks or if you’re not open to them, then it will just seem like it’s the other guys who have all the luck. And I’m pretty sure that just wishing really hard won’t get the job done.

If you have a goal: dream about it… hope and pray for it… then go to work on making it happen!

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