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How Learning Influences Luck

February 10, 2010
by Scott Levitt ·  

Scott’s Thoughts: The Relationship Between Learning & Luck
Can learning create good luck?
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” –Sarah Caldwell (1924 — 2006), opera conductor & stage director

When times are tight, the cries to “do more with less” and “get a return on every dollar” get louder. When left unchecked, this perspective puts a premium on linking every minute of your work day to activities which contribute somehow to the bottom line. Some of this is natural and sensible, but taken to an extreme, it’s counterproductive to preparing for future opportunities.

Seneca, a Roman philosopher, is widely credited with the quote “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Looking for opportunity is the easier half of the equation. What about preparation? What is it, exactly? How do we prepare for opportunities we don’t know will come? What will they look like? How should we get ready?

I think the answer lies in permitting yourself the luxury of learning new things without a rigid vision of how they will connect to your business (or even your daily life). You may, for example, not see the point behind new web technologies, such as Twitter. And it may never be relevant to the way you do business. But I would suggest that you give yourself permission to learn about it, even if you think the time is ill-spent in the short term.

Learning, for its own sake, helps your brain learn to make connections between things which might not ordinarily be obvious. The concept or skill you learn today for “fun” may not equate to a higher income or a better quality of life next week. It may, however, be the little detail in the future which makes grabbing hold of a new opportunity possible.

Learning for its own sake may be one of the essential ingredients in good luck. Be open to it.

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