The art of creating luck in business | Advice | Small Business Connect

Christoff Oosthuysen

YOU invest time in business planning because you want to increase the likeliness of your success, to maximise your impact on the quality of life of the customers you serve and to increase the reward for those involved in your business or organisation. And you produce a business plan to guide you in what should be done to achieve these results. However, it is not always easy to know exactly what the best way forward is. You may find, like many others, that it is rather difficult to describe what must be done in a planning document; and then to go on to get it done. But, when you least expect it, as if by magic, you start achieving good results… Sometimes it seems that whatever you plan and then implement, you just keep hitting the wall; while other times it may seem as if the wind is in your back and without much effort you take big strides forward. Or you may have seen how others just streak ahead, while you are for some unknown reason bogged down in problems. It is as if luck is sometimes on your side and other times not! Indeed, luck plays a significant role in achieving good results. But luck is not a random occurrence of good fortune. You create your own 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 get so much closer to success! You may have grown up, as I did, believing that hard work will bring success – not luck! Most cultures of the world support the belief that offering value through hard work is the only way to achieve success. According to this line of thinking, good results and personal success will follow productive busyness. However, while hard work and persistence are important, there is also a dynamic at play which does not always follow the straight-line thinking. In the success game there is an “X-factor” best described as “luck”. In acknowledging luck as an important factor in creating your own success, I am not suggesting that you just have to wait for “your day in the sun” to arrive. No, luck is not the result of random chance which you patiently have to wait for – it is something you can create! You could mistakenly sit back and wait for luck to arrive. But this is a bit like waiting for your lucky day in winning the lottery without ever buying a lotto ticket. To be the lucky one to win the lottery millions, you need to play; and to increase your chance of being the lucky one, you need to play every week. “But how do I go about in creating luck,” you may ask. The answer to this question is not complicated at all, but if you apply it to your own situation, you could experience profound results in your business or organisation. Before getting to the answer on what it is you could do to create luck, you’ll have to acknowledging that you can create your own luck through your persistence in taking the right actions; and you’ll need to prepare yourself to constantly refine your actions so that you keep getting better at staying on your own road to success. You need to be prepared to keep going when others would give up, and you need to be brave in accepting that you may have to change and make sacrifices so that your luck can increase. With this said, I’ll move on to answering how you can know what it is that you need to do persistently so that it brings you more luck and get you closer to your intended goals? 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.

I’ll repeat it, just to make sure you hear me:

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 made in the past or the circumstances you may find yourself in right now. Think about your opportunities for a moment. What can you realistically pursue as an opportunity within you reach? 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 align with your capacity. Which brings us to what we understand when we refer to “capacity”. While opportunities refer to the options you have for serving the needs and wants 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 an experience that exceeds 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: one describing the opportunities available to you and the other your capacity to deliver. It is a good start in aligning these two elements. The aim of maintaining a growth-oriented, dynamic balance between your capacity and opportunities is to propel you forward so that you increase your luck and achieve momentum towards the flow of good results.

We can explain the relationship between your opportunities and capacity in an easy to understand “equation”, which you can apply to the points of commonality you identified in your opportunities and capacity lists. You can explain the dynamic interplay between your opportunities and capacity in this symbolic “equation” as a way of summarising the dynamic relationship between these two elements.

This “equation” is:

Capacity x Opportunities = Results

The equation says that you will keep improving your results if you improve both your capacity and opportunities, while maintaining a dynamic balance between the two elements. The danger of expressing the conditions for results in an equation is that it may be misinterpreted as a scientific formula, showing direct causal relationships. This is not a formula, nor is it a recipe for success. It is a symbolic representation of the idea that results is achieved when your capacity to deliver is in balance with the opportunities you pursue. Therefore the only formula for your success is the formula you define yourself, based on your understanding of your “sweet-spot” where you maintain a balance between your capacity to deliver and the opportunities you pursue. The equation also implies another relationship between these elements. The multiplication sign shows that results are improved through the leverage of these two factors over each other. If either of the elements is low, the impact of the other element (which may be high) is radically reduced. To illustrate this, let’s say for argument sake we assigned a value of 8 out of 10 to represent a very high capacity and 2 out of 10 to represent the availability of little opportunities, you would get a result of only 16. Compare this to a mid-range value of 5 assigned to both, resulting in a sum of 25. The high capacity in the first example comes to very little if the opportunities are not also high. It is much better to achieve lower levels of equal value since this will give you a better result! Both the opportunities you pursue and your capacity to deliver need to be high at the appropriate level of impact for yourself and your context. This will ensure the best results. Or, when you are not able to achieve high levels yet, you should be aiming for a balance between the two, so that your strong points are not cancelled out by the weaknesses elsewhere. To get good results, you cannot afford an over-emphasis on either of these elements – you need to attend to both your opportunities and your capacity; and you need a plan to increase both while maintaining a dynamic harmony. You may study your lists of opportunities and capacity again. This time you should apply the principles of the “formula” of Capacity x Opportunities = Results. If either your capacity or opportunities are much lower than the other, you will have to identify ways of addressing this imbalance so that your capacity and opportunities offer leverage towards better results. Remember 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. And with more luck on your side, you are bound to achieve better and better results!

* Edited abstract from the soon to be release “Results! Why Business Plans Fail & How To Get Ahead In A Fast Changing World” by Christoff Oosthuysen.

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