Things can change overnight. In my last blog, Simone Biles had appeared to opt out of the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Rather, she had found time to recover and to practice allowing her to enter the last gymnastic event, the balance beam, in which she placed 3rd, winning a bronze medal. Congratulations, Simone, for persevering under what I’m sure were difficult circumstances.
Similarly, in my private practice, this week two of my clients were in the process of looking for jobs with the goal of changing their lives. In the first case, one was making a lot of money at his present position, and he did not believe he would be able to find other employment that would match his current earnings. But there were many features in his current work environment that he despised, and he came to realize that his own mental health was more important than his salary. His participation in the therapeutic process had helped him gain self-confidence in coming to a decision that it was time to start a job search with the goal of leaving his present situation. He had gained the mental fortitude to prepare himself to do what was best for him. He has proceeded to update his curriculum vitae and to investigate different occupations that might interest him.
My other client had just recently passed a major exam that qualifies him for a higher ranking in his field. He just had completed one interview, and he was scheduled for another one the following day. He already had met some staff that he felt comfortable with, and consequently, made it his business to be well prepared for the forthcoming meeting. Both of my clients were upbeat about their future and ready to make a change in their lives.
Years ago, my wife, Lisa, had told me how she had taken a quote from Seneca, the Roman Stoic philosopher, and had employed it with some of the students she had seen as a career counselor. The quote reads as: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” She would explain to her students that were in transition the good fortune they may have experienced was not due to mere luck but the positive attitude they brought with them.
Accordingly, when the first of these two clients indicated he was ready for some luck to come his way, I told him he was in the process of making the luck happen in his life. I then quoted the lines from Seneca. I assured him that his positive attitude now would be instrumental in creating the luck he may need in his quest for new employment that might even entail a career change. I wanted him to realize that his positive attitude would help him in attracting possible employees in his job search. The second client, who was facing a live interview, understood that the element of preparation would be crucial in his evaluation.
In an earlier blog, The Meaning of Mazel, I elaborated on how we make our own mazel (derived from the Yiddish, meaning luck or fortune). This idea fits in well with what Seneca said two centuries ago. I am amused when couples I have met say they were so lucky to find another. Let us look at this statement more closely. Perhaps their meeting one another came under fortuitus circumstances but that did not imply they would remain together as a couple. Rather, it would indicate to me that at the time of their encounter they were ready to make a very important decision, that is a marital commitment. They may have met several other potential partners but, on those occasions, may not have been ready to make a commitment. Here I would liken readiness to what Seneca called preparation.
Even if the meeting of one’s partner in life was unplanned, there is little luck involved that keeps them together subsequently. Moreover, the desire to stay together after so many years has little to do with luck, but rather the underlying love and appreciation, they share with one another.
When you are prepared and feel confident, you will be able to reap the benefits of your preparation. What you are doing is steering your life, like a captain behind the rudder of a ship, in such a way that opportunities become more apparent. When you take the necessary steps to see where the opportunities lie, you are much more likely to experience luck than otherwise. Just remember: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”