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Career luck or something else?

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altDo you have to be in the right place at the right time to move forward in your job search or career? What if you’re already there?

Can you make your own luck?

The word luck comes up regularly in conversations. People talk about strokes of luck or lucky breaks. But how do we define luck if pushed? Can it be jolted with a personal charm or accessory? Is it chance or a twist of fate?  And why do some people seem to have consistent good luck while others seem to be a magnet for misfortune?

Perhaps there’s truth in the old saying, “You make your own luck.”  What if we defined luck as:

Doing as much as you can to increase your probability of success

And what if—no matter what your experience with luck in the past, you could cultivate the characteristics to harvest it in the future? I think any of us can. In my work coaching clients in their careers, I see three common personality traits that seem to bring luck—opportunities, good fortune—whatever you wish to call it—to them. Some real-life cases in point:

Trust your gut

I’ve worked with Carol for more than a decade. In 2002, her husband of 16 years left her. Carol was devastated and felt she would never find another guy she could be serious with.  In 2005, her colleague introduced her to a single dad named Mike. When Mike asked her out not long afterward, Carol was on the verge of saying “no”. She told me it was because he was Jewish; she was a devout Christian. It had seemed a given to her that the two worlds would not mesh. Something stopped her. “It was though I literally had an inner voice telling me, ‘your co-worker would not have introduced you to someone she didn’t think special. Have a date. What’s the worst that can happen?’” So, Carol went on that first date with Mike. They have been happily married since 2009.

There’s a strong tie between luck and intuition. Research has shown that 90% of lucky people said they trusted their gut when it came to making smart decisions about personal relationships; 80% also said it played a key role in their careers. While some analysis is always good (intuition is not the same as impulse), sometimes getting lucky is going with your gut!

Strike while the iron’s hot

My client, Tracy has good things happen to her all the time. A successful entrepreneur with a whole-foods store, people always tell Tracy how lucky she is. “Luck has nothing to do with it,” she once told me. About a year ago, Tracy met and chatted with a woman at a local farmers’ market. The woman mentioned that she was an editor with a national food magazine. Tracy invited her new acquaintance to visit her store. A few months later, the editor did just that; and brought with her a photographer. Within the next year, Tracy’s business was featured by the magazine in a five-page article. To this day, mention of her store appears in print and other media throughout the United States. Her business has grown ten-fold.

You don’t have to do anything dramatic or tough for good fortune to come into your life. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of paying attention and then following up.

Practice resiliency and persistency

A technical writer in his 9-5 job, Darrin wrote his first novel. He sent it off to 45 publishers. It was rejected by the same number. Part of Darrin’s career / personal brand was in “I love doing what others say I can’t do.” On a cold winter’s evening, Darrin invited some close friends to a pot-luck brainstorming supper at his home. One of them volunteered to ask advice from a friend who worked in book publishing. That person ended up suggesting a small Midwestern publishing house that Darrin had not approached. That publisher loved the book. Yep; it was published. And it got Darrin onto a speaker circuit for several universities, and also earned him explosive growth in followers on Twitter and Facebook.

When the going gets tough, the lucky get going. People I know who are not resilient, often assume that failure results from some fundamental inadequacy on their part, and they give up. A resilient person will look for what might be changed or done differently—and try again.

Persistence Tip: Make a list of your expectations and a timetable for achieving them; if you hit a roadblock, step back and ask yourself what the experience has taught you. Then inventory your strengths and start thinking about how to use them to bring about a different outcome. Decide that you will persevere when things aren’t working out as you hoped.

Life throws out things beyond our control. What we can control is our attitude and response to the tough stuff. Lucky people may just be those who figure that temporary failure is just a pothole  on the road to success.

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Biography

Barb Poole, Founder and President of Hire Imaging, LLC, has more than 25 years’ experience as a career coach, strategist and writer, helping clients worldwide in all industries and levels with career transitions ranging from jumpstarting and changing careers, to maximizing current success on the job. Through her one-on-one virtual coaching, she is known for her ability to help people explore, find, get and keep their career dreams. She has been retained by c-level and senior leaders, as well as middle management professionals on down to front-line organizational talent. She also provides corporate outplacement, working with exiting employees to empower each for a successful transition. Barb served as a Career Consultant with Ricklin-Echikson Associates, providing global transition assistance and career management services for corporations that included IBM, Eaton and UPS.  She was Human Resources Director for a national wholesaler; and wrote hiring policies, interview strategies, and job descriptions for a 14-county non-profit emergency medical services agency.

She received a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communications; and has earned the credentials as a Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Leadership and Talent Management Coach, Professional in Human Resources, Certified 360° REACH Personal Brand Assessment (administrator), and triple-resume-writing certifications. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, Career Management Alliance, National Resume Writers Association, Professional Resume Writers and Career Coaches, and Career Directors International. She serves on CDI’s Resume Certification Committee, and has won multiple CDI Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) awards, including first place. She currently serves as a judge in this international competition.

A recent transplant to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, she graduated from her former central Minnesota city’s Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, served on the Chamber’s the Workforce Development Committee, and was a keynote speaker on career issues. Growing up as the daughter of a career Air Force officer, living in multiple states and overseas, Barb experienced firsthand the challenges of family relocation and career changes. She absolutely loves providing her clients with the resources, empathetic support and objective, gentle accountability nudge to help them take baby steps that turn into broad jumps!

Reach or Find Barb at  http://hireimaging.com/ ;  http://twitter.com/#!/hireimaging ; http://www.linkedin.com/in/hireimaging

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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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