The Truth About Luck And Success

How to take advantage of good fortune.

I was born in the United States in 1944, just before the Baby Boom generation and near the end of a period known as the “Lucky Generation.”

As a member of the “Lucky Generation,” also called the “Quiet Generation” or the “Lucky Few,” I have gone through my life feeling like I’ve always had an abundance of opportunity.

Two historical events and a historical first.

My generation was born in the years beginning in 1929 through 1945, a period in the world that saw two major historical events that defined us. The first was the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 when the stock market crashed until 1939. The second was World War II, which propelled American industry into high gear to prepare for war.

We became the first generation in American history that was much smaller than the one before it, and much, much smaller than the Baby Boom generation that followed. During the Depression, of course, people couldn’t afford a large family that they had to feed and clothe and otherwise provide for. And then during World War II, a lot of men were away overseas. The birth rate plummeted.

A time of plenty.

As time has gone by, it’s been discovered that mine is the wealthiest, most successful generation in the history of the United States on a per capita basis, so that’s where the “lucky” name comes from.

If you look back before my generation, all the facilities for schooling had been designed to accommodate the larger generation before us, and, by necessity, the job market had also grown to accommodate this larger generation. Then, along came a smaller generation.

When I started school in 1950, for example, there were more than enough teachers and classroom space, and plenty of all the necessary school supplies. I didn’t know anything other than abundance, though I wouldn’t have known how to put words to that at the time.

It just so happens that this coincided with one of the most abundant periods of American history, right after World War II. The United States had suffered no war damage. Great numbers of men and women were released from the armed forces and came back to the States where the G.I. Bill had been passed, giving them free education and free mortgages. American factories continued to operate at full capacity, creating jobs and opportunity.

In the 1960s, when I was graduating from high school, colleges were eager for you to sign up because the supply was so much greater than the demand. Or you could go directly into the marketplace, and you had your choice of jobs. Through upturn and downturn as an entrepreneur, my abundance mindset remains a huge influence on my thinking about entrepreneurship.

Always expand your thinking to take advantage of the positives of your situation. Mindset over matter.

Always expand your thinking to take advantage of the positives of your situation. Mindset over matter.

A “lucky” meeting.

Around 2011, I met Peter Diamandis, the author of the New York Times bestseller Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. What attracted me to Peter was his very thinking on abundance. His TED Talk on this topic, which I highly recommend, explains that we’re just heading into the most abundant period in human history, and that everything is going to get better in every possible way.

Because of when I was born, I’ve been living with an abundance mindset my whole life. Those of us in the Lucky Generation who recognized our luck and have taken advantage of the timeliness of our birth haven’t known anything but abundance and success in life from the beginning.

“Success is 50% luck and 50% knowing how to take advantage of that luck.” #DanSullivan Click To Tweet

Fifty percent luck, fifty percent appreciation.

I believe that a lot of life and success is really luck. For example, I was lucky to be born at the right time and into the right circumstances. I’m very appreciative of that and many other circumstances in my life. The important thing is that you appreciate the luck in your life because before you can really take advantage of that luck, you have to be grateful for it. You have to give it full value.

Once you increase the value of your circumstances — even sometimes in cases where they’re negative — you see that you’re a very lucky person for one reason or another. Then what comes into play is the ability to take advantage of your luck to achieve success.

In the end, I believe that success is likely 50 percent luck. The other 50 percent is knowing how to take advantage of that luck.

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Dan is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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