PGA pro Gary Player stated it best when he said, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.” My name is Ramzy Ismail, and I’m a lucky individual. A majority of my luck, I can say, is attributed to universal forces greater than myself. (Hey Mom, Dad!) But I believe the rest of my luck or chance (I’ll use the two interchangeably) was influenced in some way through my actions, optimism, curiosity, and initiative. I call it forced serendipity. There have been multiple times in my life when taking that extra step forward opened up doors I didn’t anticipate. I work hard to be the person who sparks conversation — the person who takes the initiative to introduce his or herself as soon at every opportunity. I make myself the person who believes that fourth follow-up over email will do the trick. Like I said, I consider myself lucky. Maybe it’s because I’ve been researching how to be lucky. Psychologist and professor Richard Wiseman, whose research identifies how lucky people create good fortune in their lives, states: Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good. Sometimes, I think the Ancient Romans summed it up perfectly when they described luck as the moment when preparation meets opportunity. Preparation Being prepared isn’t always about doing your homework. It’s about optimizing yourself for any situation. When I think of people who are constantly in preparation mode, two traits stand out. 1. Curiosity and 2. The ability to create associations. Curiosity goes a long way. Research has proven that emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a greater indicator of workplace success than IQ, and many anecdotes of industry veterans will back up the academic research. Curiosity, as a piece of EQ, is the desire to seek out knowledge and learn more about your respective fields of interest. Marc Andresseen, long time investor and startup founder, said it best in his blog post – … Curiosity over intelligence. This is why. Curious people are more likely to already have in their heads the building blocks for crafting a solution for any particular problem they come across, versus the more quote-unquote intelligent, but less curious, person who is trying to get by on logic and pure intellectual effort. Go ahead and ask “Why?” and keep asking “Why?” without apology to make sense of the world around you. Keep that mental bookmark for future reference because … Curiosity, when combined with the ability to make quick associations, is highly effective. Ask yourself “Why” a thousand times, and you’ll begin to have a lot to say about a lot of subjects. If you can quickly draw on it and make a connection within a conversation, congratulations, you’ve escaped the textbook answers we assume people want to hear. Plus, the ability to synthesize and apply the information around you is a highly sought after trait that hiring managers will pick up on quickly. Opportunity The dictionary defines opportunity as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. Getting an interview or a coffee meeting or shaking someone’s hand – those are opportunities. But how do you create those opportunities for yourself? Critical observation is the first thing that comes to mind. Observing the situation and being in the moment when meeting new people or go to events is a key factor often overlooked. Don’t think of what to do next. Trust that your preparation is there, and use your intuition in the moment to spot opportunities and grab them. FBI veteran and nonverbal language expert, Joe Navarro states: Observation is not about being judgmental, it is not about good or bad, it is about seeing the world around you, about having situational awareness, and interpreting what it is that others are communicating both verbally and nonverbally. To observe is to see but also to understand and that requires listening… Combine that with the old mantra of “80% of success is just showing up” and life can begin to turn for the best without you even noticing it.
Josh Jarrett is Chief Product Officer and Co-founder of Koru, the leader in predictive hiring based on what really drives performance. Josh has spent his whole career using data to drive business outcomes at organizations as diverse as McKinsey & Company, the National Park Service, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.More from Josh Jarrett