In my last Huffington Post piece on Happenstance, I discussed the importance of remaining open to and honouring the role of chance in our lives. While I strongly believe this is true, I also believe it is difficult to acknowledge or differentiate between good and bad luck in our lives. Many of us do not have a clear sense of our purpose or at times of what is good for us, so I would argue that we can easily confuse good or bad fortune without greater clarity about our path and where we are going.
In most cases, we would view getting a job as good fortune and losing a job as bad fortune. And yet, how many people spend their lives trapped in jobs or fields that do not make the best use of their skills and passions? Do these people feel lucky to have dead-end jobs that slowly erode their energy and absorb their time? And how many of us have suffered a job loss only to discover that it opened doors we could not have expected or wouldn't have had time to fully explore while employed? Was it bad luck that saw us bounced from the safety of a job but into a circumstance that might be a much better fit?
In his book, Bounce: The Art of Turning Tough Times Into Triumph, Keith McFarland explores stories of tremendous success that followed periods of collapse or adversity. In this exploration,
McFarland discovers that most true success stories were not stories of win after win, but stories of resilience, learning from failure, and overcoming significant challenges and obstacles. In fact, McFarland makes the case that it was the moment of adversity (the bad luck) and the learning that came from it that set the stage for the tremendous success that followed. So was the adversity actually good luck? I am certain it did not feel that way at the time.
Conversely, is it possible that "good luck" without focus can have negative consequences? If you ended up choosing a field based on what you happened to be good at in high school and had the good fortune to be promoted such that you never pursued other paths and interests, could your "good fortune" have kept you from your true calling? Perhaps you developed a lifestyle based on your success that you did not feel you could risk in chasing that life dream that still lingers within you unfulfilled. In that case, was your good fortune actually good for you?
In the end, I believe knowing and being true to yourself is key. If you have that connection, perceptions of good or bad luck are irrelevant as we learn and grow from facing both. As students of life, we all must commit to learning from the full range of the human experience. That is living. Adversity and triumph are both your strengths. I wish you every lesson in the good and bad luck that lies ahead.
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