Over a decade ago, some friends and I were getting ready to go to a club. It was one of those bars where you wore black lipstick, and it had been a while since my friend Kurt had gone. He was really looking forward to it.
Kidding around with him, I said: “Watch; we’re going to get there, and there’s going to be a bomb threat. They’ll close down the club and you’ll never be able to go again.”
Sure enough, that night, when we got there, the streets got shut down. Police tape, everywhere.
There had been a bomb threat that night. They shut down the club.
And we never got to go back ever again.
A few years later, I had this life as a podcaster. It was over a decade ago, and a big deal at the time. I was 24, and I was just starting to get invited to conferences.
There was this one event, in Ottawa. I went there on my last 50 bucks. Hey, I didn’t say it was glamorous.
Later on, there was this guided tour of a library. It was called a “sound walk,” where you went around paying attention to the sounds all around you. I went around, listening to the sounds, and found myself in front of a change machine.
I thought to myself, “cool, I’ll listen to the sound of the change falling in the machine.” So I put in a dollar and, like magic, two dollars came out. (!)
I was confused, so I did it again. Sure enough, I put in a dollar, and two dollars came out. It happened again, and again, and again.
It kept happening. One dollar dropped in the machine produced two dollars coming out.
In that instance, at that moment, I had probably found the only money duplication machine in the world.
20 minutes later, I walked away with $100 of change in my pocket. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Sure, you could call those things luck. But they’re really just anecdotes. Everyone has them. These ones just seem unique because they’re mine.
The reality is, there is no luck.
The natural state of all people, all relationships, all companies, is dead. No one is lucky forever. You can’t be.
Luck also looks great from the outside. But you never see someone’s suffering (since they don’t talk about it). Only the wins are visible.
In truth, the only lucky breaks you can count on are the ones you create.
The only real luck you have is you.
The best place to be in, psychologically, is one where you think, “oh fuck, this great thing is going to die unless I do something.” When it’s clear, amazing things happen, but regretfully, it almost never is.
At Breather HQ, I’m surrounded by a team of 7+ people. It would be very easy to lay blame on any of them for any minute error we make. But the power of the CEO is that it forces you to realize that it’s all on you. At the end of the day, whatever happens that’s bad, it’s all your fault.
Hired the wrong guy and didn’t fire him fast enough (or at all)? Your fault.
Waited til the last minute to hit your numbers this week? Your fault.
Ran out of money? Yup, your fault.
Lose a co-founder and your company collapses? Your fault.
CEO is the only role where I’ve ever felt this way. And despite the pressure, it is a blessing, because for perhaps the first time ever, you’re seeing realityas it is. Very few illusions can exist.
In other words, if I begin to believe in luck, we are all doomed.
To believe in luck creates the ultimate complacency. “Everything will be fine at the last minute. Don’t worry. It’ll all turn out ok.” No. Wrong.
But “everything will die unless I do something right now”? Perhaps also wrong! But fundamentally, this stance is much more useful.
At the end of the day, people can hit unfortunate circumstances, and yes, those circumstances affect them. But the most useful belief you can ever have is this –
“I am in control of what happens next.”
It may, or may not be true. But that’s not the point. Make it your mantra. I promise, good things will happen next.
Title Photo Credit: flickr
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