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Friday, August 15, 2008

Luck, timing or talent

Michael Fraser in a bnet.com posting asks this question: Would You Rather be Lucky, Timely or Good? The question is whether good fortune, persistence, or talent are essential to business success. The answer, most agree, is all have a place in the story.

Interestingly, the first comment describes the fact that in the gold rush, the entrepreneurs who made the real money were the people providing services to the gold miners. And this of course brings me back to that Colorado tourist attraction gold mine which operates a business where a heavy dose of spirituality and apparently genuine (but not overbearing) religious passion underlies its viability.

Stripping away specific religious interpretations, however, I think great business successes require a form of spirituality, framed in positive yet pragmatic perspectives. I'm sure there is some valid social science and psychological interpretations beneath this stuff, but I can see how, in my experience, strange and wonderful things have happened just at the right moment, when I was really ready for them. And these moments correlate with a combination of letting go, accepting, respecting the forces beyond our control, and accepting total personal responsibility for what happens.

The opposite story, I see, in the bitter and angry person who believes an evil force has set course to destroy her family's business. From my own experience, I know that bad guys exist in the business world -- many times putting on truly impressive shows as community leaders and successes. Most of the time, I believe these crooks and, for want of a better phrase, "business psychopaths" are brought down to earth, but equally I'm sure some never get caught. (Note, I am not an angel of perfection!)

As I listened to the victimized person's tirades, I sensed she had some real and valid axes to grind. But wait: In her own remarks, she provided clues to elements of genuine personal responsibility and causality for her own problems, which she brushed off as insignificant.

The next day, at a local industry event, I sat with an industry leader who, just a few years ago, participated in what I could have seen as a business-destroying (and unfair) conspiracy against my company. I didn't see the treatment accorded to my business then as just or fair -- and the person who led the conspiracy is still very much around, and continues (as far as I know) to be hostile to my company.

But I appreciated the difference in attitude from the 'victim' described above that defines my values. As things went from bad to worse, I could see some of the major mistakes I had made, and accepted the fact that, while I had been treated unfairly, I couldn't change the other people involved, but had to accept responsibility for my own decisions, and could change my own ways.

Now, enough time has passed, and most people involved in that conspiracy have accepted me back in their orbit as legitimately in business and therefore I could, in an off-the-record conversation, ask industry leader about the 'victim'. "Oh, she's a nutcase," he said. Then he told me about another business that appears to have been a real victim of a cruel and business-destroying fraud. "Could you write something about them?" he asked.

I had to decline -- it is deadly serious (and dangerous) for a publisher to take on a crook head-on in print or even a blog: The bad guys understand and know the laws regarding libel, often hire the best lawyers, and can bring you down to poverty so fast you won't know what hit you. (Thus validating the 'victim's story.) The key to success in dealing with these situations, of course, is to know the lay of the land, to be nimble, quick, responsible, and patient. Yes, you can do everything wrong and still have good luck -- and everything right, and still fail, consistently. But I've seen enough times how good luck sometimes happens just at the best and most unexpected times, and now more than ever believe the forces behind this good luck are in the realm of spirituality, not business. I believe in G-d.

1 comment:

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Thanks for the interesting post, and the mention of my item. I wish you'd cross-post it. No one in the conversation has talked about this aspect of business.

Michael Fitzgerald