Luck: why deny it?

“You’re so lucky.” These words are like polished gemstones.

They may not seem so when the feats that you’ve fought for are labelled as good fortune. Yet think about it – you’ve managed to hide the sweat, giving the appearance of ease.

Why deny the smile of luck? Sometimes it’s actually true. More often, it’s not. But being thought lucky sits fine with other people in the way that ambition-driven success doesn’t.

Hard work that brings results can set a tough standard. Nobody likes to be judged lazy or lacking in drive.

Folks would rather be around people who enjoy good fortune. It’s uplifting, and is also thought to be infectious. Some of it might rub off . . .  rewards achieved without effort.

So tell me I’m lucky. I’ll agree with you every time.

The glitter behind the lockdown cloud

Every cloud is trimmed with gold braid – even lockdown.

  1. It reduces our range of activities. This hurts, but also allows us to focus. We can concentrate on two or three important areas, rather than six or seven.
  2. Normal activities often involve conflicts. For example, R&D and sales can be in opposition. If we can deliver on one of these we’ll achieve something.
  3. Stressed systems, such as hearing, nerves, or our livers are given a compulsory rest.
  4. Lockdown forces us to do old things in new ways, as many of the historic routines can’t be sustained. Often the new ways will be found to be better.
  5. Fewer resources means we have to do things more cheaply or simply. Some of these economies will survive the ending of the crisis.
  6. Inevitably, lockdown will put firms out of business and reduce competition. This is a grim fact. If you can survive, you’ll find a clearer field afterwards. The enterprises that were struggling in normal times will have folded.
  7. On that topic, Bill Gates has said that every business should aim to have a year’s reserves – in other words, be able to last 12 months without sales. Who the hell can do that? Still, you can see his point.

No, we’re not out to destroy you

The Australian prime minister and the New South Wales premier share a singular speaking style in front of the media. It amounts to this:

Talk fast, don’t pause, snatch your breaths, keep going for exactly ten minutes, and when you’ve finished, abruptly turn away from the microphone and leave.

Where on earth did this habit come from, Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian? Surely the parliamentary debating chambers.

SQUASH THE OPPOSITION

Rattling on non-stop means that opposition members have no opportunity to interject, and if they try, their voices are drowned out by the speaker.

But listen, leaders. The media won’t heckle or interrupt while you’re speaking. They’ll pay respectful attention. Given the opportunity (which they often aren’t), they’ll ask their questions when you’ve finished.

Please, Scott and Gladys, don’t talk to us as if we’re out to destroy your ten minutes in the sun. Ease up. Smile occasionally. And when you’ve finished, thank us for listening.

We’ll end up thanking you.

Too greasy to be true

Online products and services depend on favorable reviews. It’s easy to gain an unfair advantage by asking staff, friends or associates to add their flattering comments.

This is despite the efforts of sites like Amazon to stamp out the practice by deleting the goods for sale or banning the vendor.

There are ways of identifying user feedback that isn’t genuine.

  1. It’s often one of the first reviews to appear, posted with the intention of seeding more responses. The prose is casual, but grammatically correct.
  2. It uses exaggeration such as brilliant, amazing, a dream! Exclamation marks are common.
  3. The review criticizes the product a little in order to look like the real deal, but only on matters that aren’t important.
  4. It covers all the marketing bases of price, functionality, delivery and appearance. No genuine reviews are that ordered or comprehensive.
  5. It often starts with “I was initially wary of this kind of product, but decided to give it a try”. And ends with “I’m so glad I did.”
  6. Other brands or competing products are heavily panned.
  7. The review is signed off with a common first name. Genuine reviewers are unafraid of suppling their real, full details.

Any site moderator soon learns to identify the phony reviews. They’re like a red flag. With a little practice, you can too.

Successful by choice

There’s usually more than one way to accomplish something. Ideally, you’ll want to have at least three methods open to you.

If fitness is your goal, for example, try not to rely on jogging alone. Also have a choice among swimming, weights, exercise machine and sport.

WHICH TODAY?

Varying your activities will “keep your body guessing” and make you fitter faster. It’s also great to be able to get up in the morning and ask “what one will I do today?”

If yoga is your thing, train regularly with more than one group. Self-employed? You’ll want at least three clients.

Not only does variety stop you getting bored, it also creates a buyer’s market. The providers of activities will have to compete against each other for your attention, which means you get the best possible deals. 

A range of alternatives isn’t usually possible at the start. Let it evolve. Begin with a single activity, than add to that as opportunities arise.

Achievement – it’s a matter of choice.

For now, hang loose

It’s great to be in control, but sometimes this can throttle your efforts.

Early-stage enterprises are ambiguous, uncertain animals that are never a perfect fit with the market. They need a lot of tweaking and changing.

Being imprecise over goals and methods can be an advantage.

During the Vietnam War, the insurgents and North Vietnamese used the Russian AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, which was very effective in battle because it was engineered slack. U.S. forces, by contrast, were saddled with the fine-tolerance M16 weapon that in its early form needed frequent cleaning and often jammed, resulting in unnecessary loss of life.

LOOSE AND EASY

Anyone who plays tennis knows the virtue of a floppy serve and a relaxed grip. This allows a whippy racquet motion, using the pivot points of the fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder and back. The grip is tightened up before the racquet contacts the ball.

Ever listened to Bob Dylan’s early songs or read the prose poems on his album covers? Their meanings are often vague and impressionistic. They say almost whatever you want them to, which gives them wide applicability.

So too with business. Hang loose until the moment when you have to tighten up. Let market forces and other uncontrollable variables tell you what you need to know.

Be free, people.

No deadline, nothing done

If you want to get things done, place yourself under pressure or accept external pressure. You’ll work more effectively.

Build it into your schedule – without going so far as to cause panic. One person’s pressure is another’s ease, so choose the amount of push that enhances your efficiency.

Russian concert pianist Konstantin Shamray says: “Once you are busy, really busy, you get more organised and get more done. It is as if some hidden reserves open up within you.”

YOUR LEGACY

Without some urgency Parkinson’s Law applies. Restrict your working time, by say booking an early round of golf.

Another hack is to make a list that’s too long, knowing that all the items don’t have to be knocked off in 24 hours – although you will try.

The scope of projects that benefit from self-imposed deadlines will vary greatly, from “This is what I intend getting done before bedtime” to “Here’s what I want to make my legacy.”

Lifetime’s work or a well-filled hour. A firm schedule can benefit both.