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Posted on | October 30, 2009 | 1 Comment

How many times in your life have you said something like “wow, why does she get all the luck?”  Or, I sure wish I had her luck.  No matter what she does, she makes money.  No matter what he does, he comes out smelling like a rose. 

Well, I’m not going to tell you that there is no such thing as luck.  There certainly is.  But what if I told you there are things you can do to help make your own luck?  Let me tell you about luck.  On one particular night mission in Vietnam, my airplane was suddenly surrounded by tracers; bullets being fired in front of me and on both sides.  And to make matters even scarier, only one bullet in five is a tracer.  I quickly maneuvered the airplane in a Split S (rolled inverted pulled hard until I was headed in the opposite direction) and to my surprise, when I landed, and thoroughly checked out the airplane, I had not been hit by a single bullet.  Now that’s luck!  Or maybe I made the right move just in the nick of time.  Regardless of what it was, I know God was my copilot that night. 

Some years ago, I was very envious of a peer of mine who always seemed to get the breaks.  No matter what that guy did, he always seemed to come out on top.  It wasn’t just once, or twice, but this went on for quite some time.  I was having a discussion with a mentor of mine, someone who had been around the block a few times and was a lot wiser than I.  I happened to let it slip that I was jealous of so-and-so because he always got the breaks.  My mentor’s response surprised me.  He said “Bill, luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.  Bob is just better prepared than you and the others are.”  Wow, that was really an eye opener.  I had never thought of it that way.

After hearing what my mentor had to say, I realized that to a certain degree, I could control my own luck.  I could at least be better prepared to handle situations before they happened.   Here is a good analogy.  When US Air flight 1549 lost both engines and “Sully” Sullivan ditched his Airbus 320 into the Hudson River, was that luck?  Maybe a little, but Sully was prepared for such an emergency.  Through hours and hours of emergency procedures practice in the simulator, Sully had the experience to deal with a very serious situation.  Had he practiced that particular emergency before?  No.  But because he practiced many different kinds of emergencies, he was able to maintain calmness and a level head as he dealt with this new situation.  Not only that, but Sully thought through those kinds of scenarios in his own mind to mentally prepare himself.  Was there any luck involved?  Of course there was some, everything had to be just right for this to happen, but if it weren’t for Sully’s preparedness, no one would have survived that ditching in the Hudson.  You can bet that pilots are now practicing something similar in their simulator training now. 

So what can you do to prepare yourself for the unknowns in your life and business? 

  1.  There is an old adage, “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”  In the flying business this is exactly what we do.  Most emergencies cannot be practiced in the airplane, for obvious reasons.  They are, instead, practiced in the simulator.  Modern day simulators are so realistic that pilots quickly forget they are in the simulator and think they are in the airplane.  By practicing the worst possible emergency situation in the simulator, when a pilot is faced with a real life emergency in the airplane, he/she is able to deal with it in a calm, level headed manner.  Most of the time, the emergency is far less severe that what has been practiced in the simulator and can be handled with apparent ease.   Yes, I know, I got off track a bit there.  I realize you don’t have a simulator for your business. So what do you do?  Know your business well.  Know what is important and what will keep your business on track and growing.  Concentrate on those things.  Don’t let life’s little emergencies sidetrack you in your efforts.  Think about what you are going to do and say when you finally meet that one big client have been hoping to land. Think through how you are going to respond to that client in various scenarios.  In other words, be prepared.  Don’t leave anything to chance. 
  2. Have a business plan. Understand your business and know what is important to move your business forward.  Think about what can go wrong.  Have a contingency plan for all those things that could go wrong.  Every now and then, climb up to 30,000 feet and take a total view of your business.  Remember, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees.  While at altitude, so to speak, make a calm assessment of your business.  In your day to day operations, whatever you do, don’t let the mundane, unimportant things bog you down.  When you see you are getting off track, make adjustments to your plan.
  3. Stay focused.  One of the airplanes I flew in my Air Force career was AWACS.  It is a four engine 707 with a large rotodome on top and is the USAF equivalent to a Navy aircraft carrier; always being sent to the hot spots.  I was the chief pilot for the AWACS program in both the USAF and NATO.  That meant that I had the responsibility to evaluate other pilots and flight crews.  During the evaluation flight we always threw in a simulated emergency or two.  On occasion, we experienced an actual emergency.  Sometimes I could see the entire four man flight crew focus totally on the emergency, leaving only the autopilot to fly the airplane.  This is how a simple emergency can be turned into a disaster.  It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget about the big picture.  You must remain focused on the important things in your business.    

So next time you start to get envious of someone else who always seems to have good luck, know that good luck can be yours as well by preparing yourself properly.


One Response to “LUCKY DUCK!”

  1. Mike Harmon
    October 30th, 2009 @ 5:46 pm

    I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

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As an Enrolled Agent and consummate tax professional, Bill provides year-round, affordable tax services for his clients. Bill is experienced in small business start-up and tax planning in addition to a full range of tax return preparation.

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