I’d originally planned to post on this topic for Halloween, but the World Series dovetailed into my thoughts about the role of luck and superstition in freelance business success, so here I am. I’ll confess, I was chronically superstitious as a kid, due to growing up as a Boston Red Sox fan back in the days when their pattern was to get to big games…only to lose in spectacular and heart-breaking fashion. I had lucky (and jinxed) shirts and hats. If a traffic light turned green before I got to it or if my favorite song came on the radio, that was an auspicious sign. I stuffed a four-leaf clover in the middle finger of my baseball glove. Alas, none of my efforts altered the fact the Sox were quite simply and thoroughly cursed.
That all changed in 2004, when Boston was so good that they couldn’t be beaten. No luck was needed in the form of charmed socks or special pennies. I imagine that’s the feeling that a lot of Chicago Cubs fans have this morning, along with a helping of relief and disbelief. This year’s club was just too talented for 108 years of misfortune to hold it back.
Business Perspectives on Luck and Superstition
Obviously, the outcome of your favorite team’s game is absolutely beyond your influence unless you’re on the roster. With your own business, however, you’ve got significant control. It surprised me how much research has been done about the role of luck and superstition in business—there’s more to consider than you might think. Surely it’s silly to believe that important events can be influenced by such random things, right? Well…
- Harvard Business Review: Why Superstition Works in Business
- The Atlantic: Why Luck Matters More than You Might Think
- Reuters: Small Businesses Find Comfort in Superstitions
My takeaway is that you can indeed be lucky, as long as you put yourself in the position to take capitalize on the right situations when they arise. That means taking chances. Sometimes it means saying “yes” to projects even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. And it means feeling gratitude when things work out in your favor. I’ll state it right here and now: I am a lucky person, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that come my way.
It’s also OK to work a bit of superstition into the mix, as long as it doesn’t dictate your life to the point that you freeze up or ignore the physical steps required for success. Do you have a special ritual that’s been effective? Science appears to support your choice. Maybe a lucky pair of shoes, hat, scarf, or underwear? By all means, sport the appropriate attire to your next freelance business client meeting.
Just don’t forget to do the prep work that’s required to let the luck roll in.
Mark Armstrong says
I’ve always liked, “The harder I work, the more luck I have,” which is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, who probably did NOT say it. I also think you’re apt to have more luck if you’re out there “in the arena,” making pitches, trying different things, etc.. And I once read an article which made the case that optimistic people have more luck because they tend to see opportunity even in the face of setbacks. Fascinating subject! Enjoyed the post, Jake, thanks!
Jake Poinier says
Thank you, Mark! I know from our many interactions that your entrepreneurial spirit is dialed in. (And, to your point about TJ, I think he and Mark Twain probably have a good laugh about all the quotes that are attributed to them.)
Sheila Buff says
More than once, when things have been slowing down, I’ve started working on a marketing campaign, only to have a big project come in and make me postpone the marketing. Is that luck or just the usual ebb and flow of freelancing? I’m grateful either way.
Jake Poinier says
Thanks for commenting, Sheila. I’ve experienced the same weird dynamic in my freelance business—and you’re exactly right that it’s important to be grateful, whether it’s luck, skill, good planning, or simply the ebb-n-flow.
Nicki Escudero says
I would say I believe in positive energy and that good things are going to come, they will. I also love the quote Mark shared. Thanks for the great post, Jake! Nicki