Does Effort Equal Success?

It is that time of the year again… piles of school books to cover and the obligatory “Meet The Teacher” meeting. Not that I mind the meeting  —  in fact I rather look forward to get to know a little about the person I am entrusting my precious child with for six hours or more every weekday.

Only, this time around, I found the wall decorations more insightful than the rest of the meeting. It seems little changed since I was at school, with lots of motivational messages underlining the virtues of hard work and dedication.

This is what the largest display says:

the more you put in,
the more you get out


And I think, if this is 100% true then why is it that so many of my entrepreneurial customers complain that sometimes it seems that whatever they plan and do, they just keep hitting the wall? Why is it that while other times it may seem as if they have the wind in their backs and without much effort they take big strides forward. And why is it that that they say it seems that some times others just streak ahead, while they are for some unknown reason bogged down in problems?

It is not just “effort” that leads to “success”. It is as if luck is sometimes on their side and other times not!

Indeed, luck plays an important role in achieving results. So should the sign not rather say:

the more you put in,
the luckier you get,
the more you get out

However, luck is not a random occurrence of good fortune.


Hard work or plain luck

You can create more luck by adding more chances for luck to occur through what you do. When you persist with activities conducive to your desired results, you can indeed create your own luck. And with more luck, you are bound to succeed!

So, can we agree that luck plays an important part in business and organisational success? To succeed you need some luck! And to be hugely successful, you need huge amounts of luck! We can create our own luck by persisting. But persist with doing what?

This is where business plans feature in helping you to know what to persist with so that you can create more luck and achieve success?

I grew up believing that hard work will bring success – not plain luck! Like with many other cultures, offering my value through hard work, was an important element of my belief-system. I had to be productive and busy, then good results and personal success would follow. And this seems to remain a fairly strong message in the education of our kids.

But this is only partly true. Hard work and persistence is important, but there is also a success factor present, which does not always follow straight-line thinking. In the success game there is an “X-factor” best described as “luck”.


The art of creating luck

What I am about to tell you may sound simple enough, but I promise you that when you apply this idea to your business or organisation, you will see significant change. So listen up…

The art of creating more luck lies in understanding the sweet spot where the opportunities available to you are in balance with your capacity to deliver.

When I mention opportunities, I refer to all the possible instances through which you can potentially offer value to the people you are meant to serve. These opportunities are unique to you since you are serving a very specific audience within your reach and influence. It is also unique because of the choices you have made or the circumstances you may find yourself in.

Think about your opportunities for a moment. What can you realistically pursue as an opportunity within you reach? Perhaps you could make a list of five to ten such opportunities. Or if you feel stuck, read the newspaper or surf the internet with the aim to identify such opportunities. Then list them.

These are the opportunities you need to bring in balance with your capacity.

While opportunities refer to the options you have for serving the needs of people outside of your business or organisation, capacity refers to your abilities inside, or immediately available to your business or organisation. Opportunity is external, while capacity is internal.

Your capacity to deliver value is largely dependent on the resources you have available. These resources are however not limited to what is under your direct control or ownership, but includes those which you have available from your wider network for delivering on what you are promising to your customers or beneficiaries.

Think about your capacity to deliver. What strengths do you have in creating something exceeding the expectations of your customers or beneficiaries?  Make a list of five to ten characteristics which sets you apart from others in making it possible to deliver exceptional value. List these as your capacity strengths.

If you followed my suggestion, you will now have two lists describing the opportunities available to you and your capacity to deliver. It is a good start in aligning these two elements with the aim of maintaining a growth-oriented, dynamic balance that will propel you forward so that you achieve momentum towards the flow of great results.

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