Create Your Own Luck

When I was in 6th grade, I met my friend, Megan. She was pretty goofy, but in our 20  years of knowing each other, she has always been up for a challenge. On the flip side, I often struggle taking the plunge with the unfamiliar. But she never cared. In college, she told me she wanted to learn ballet, and thus signed up for an Intro to Ballet class. The story she told me was that when she arrived for the first class, with her new tights and ballet shoes, she suddenly realized it was a children’s ballet class and she was surrounded by eight year olds. I would have run away and never come back…but apparently she walked in and took the class every week.

I’ve learned that opportunities don’t really come at a “perfect” time. Instead, we make our opportunities. This morning I flew out of Portland at 7am on a Tuesday, leaving my students behind, for a week of workshops. Did it suck to put together four days worth of sub plans? Yes. Will it suck to come back to four days worth of work to grade? Yes. But will the benefit of being out of town outweigh the cost? Totally.

I can’t tell you how many good friends and colleagues I’ve known who have passed by opportunities that will make them a better teacher/educator/spouse/human because “it’s just not the right time.” Conversely, a couple years ago, I had a boss who also squashed all my requests for more opportunities. He would shake his head and reply, “We’ll talk,” or he would just stare in a really long awkward way… So I totally understand that sometimes you can try and try to improve your situation and circumstances still screw you over — been there, done that. It was incredibly frustrating; I won’t deny that (especially when I saw shameless brown-nosers get the opportunities I thought I earned).

But I decided that a jerk like him wouldn’t seal my fate, and instead I plunged myself into reading, learning and practicing the things I wanted to do more of (which happened to be Jim Knight’s Instructional Coaching framework). It was isolating to have zero support, but I stuck to my core beliefs. Tomorrow, instead of simply going to a workshop (hosted by one of my professional heroes), I’ll be working alongside him, in Kansas, at his house. That’s pretty damned cool.

I like this article in Forbes “How to Create Your Own Luck” that recently came my way. It says it’s in excusable to fail because of inaction. The writer argues, “I think it usually is the result of being either lazy, overwhelmed or, more often, afraid.”

How can you conquer self-doubt and worries? How do you get over logistical obstacles that seem to block your way? How can you seize an opportunity when you’re just not emotionally ready? The article says, “Get the Nike mentality and just do it, whatever it is.” So whether it’s trying ballet for the first time as an adult, or plunging into a new career opportunity, my theory is that everyday you don’t do something is a day you have stood still. It’s a day someone else has stepped in front of you.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the one doing the stepping. When that old boss comes up in conversation, my closest friends tell me that I should just let things go…but I can’t. Right now, I just can’t.

Lady Gaga once said, “I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.”

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