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4 SKILLS for CREATING and SUSTAINING GOOD FORTUNE in YOUR WORK
By GLENN LLOPIS
Greenleaf Book Group Press
Copyright © 2009
Glenn Llopis Group, LLC
All right reserved.
Chapter One Creating and Sustaining Good Fortune in Your Work
"Only learn to seize good fortune, for good fortune is always here." -JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
I make only one promise: your life will not be the same. What I offer is more than advice, more than hope. I offer you a mirror. In it you will see you are more powerful than you know. I offer you a map. With it you will discover you are closer than you know to a career of good fortune.
You've heard it said that chance governs us all, but I tell you that fortune is not arbitrary. There are the lucky: the lottery winners filing for bankruptcy, the gamblers betting away their winnings, the trust fund babies trapped in apathy. They know nothing of good fortune. Their lives are grains of sand slave to the ebbing and flowing tide, sand castles for only an hour.
Then there are the flourishing: those who outlive, outwork, and out love-to whom good things always seem to come. They inhabit a foundation from which positive happenstance seems to grow in abundance. Yet their good fortune springs not from mere chance but from the rare abilities to see what the majority miss and to exploit what most think uncontrollable. They are not lucky, and their fortune is no accident.
It is said that misfortune chases us all, but I tell you that fortune pursues you more swiftly. It reaches for you. You must learn only to seize it where it dwells-in the obvious and obscure places all around you-and to sow its seeds wherever you go. I will give you the eyes to see good fortune and the tools to keep it on your side from this day forward.
ALL YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN
There is more happening around you than you might realize. It is said that you find what you are looking for, but I tell you that if you learn to look around and beyond what you seek, you will discover things more valuable, timely, and true. Perhaps I am being too mystical. Or perhaps I am confirming something you've sensed all along.
I am speaking of serendipity-what some call "positive happenstance." Most believe it comes capriciously, without hint of how, when, or why. The jobless woman takes lunch alone in Central Park on a cool autumn day. As she picks at her bland leftovers, a businesswoman approaches to ask for directions, and in an instant, a connection is made and her dream job is found.
We like to say she was lucky ... or that the universe had mercy on her ... or that it was a matter of finally being in the right place at the right time.
But what if it was more than a chance occurrence? What if I told you she'd been undervalued by her former employer for years ... and that she'd finally left the company and moved to Manhattan to forge a new path . . . and that she'd always loved autumn in New York and especially in Central Park? Perhaps such observations would expand your notion about what happened and whether she had some control over her good fortune.
With a rare combination of four skills, you will begin to see and seize the momentous opportunities around you before they have passed you by. Opportunities of which you were not previously aware-often, the only opportunities that will enlarge your career path and increase your propensity for success and fulfillment every day. Most are blind to these opportunities, and this is the primary reason so many workers are uninspired, merely putting in time to meet unremarkable goals.
It has been said that self-knowledge is the mother of success, but success is first born of something else. Self-knowledge is the offspring of experience-we learn of ourselves through that which our senses take in-and experience is the offspring of the opportunities we have pursued.
Opportunity is the true mother of success.
Opportunity is the primary catalyst for sustaining good fortune in your career or company. And it builds momentum quicker than any other success factor.
One right opportunity skillfully pursued births a host of additional opportunities that would otherwise have never existed. A middle manager steps off the corporate track to launch an online venture with a close friend. With a little money and a lot of heart, the two succeed in putting their business on the map in the first year. The business multiplies exponentially the following year and is featured in two major publications-one a cover story. In the third year, this once-small venture garners a large offer from a Web-based giant. The acquisition not only opens the doors to a host of new business ventures, it also initiates requests for both partners to consult large organizations on how to differentiate Web presence and small organizations on how to establish Web presence. The former middle manager also receives a sizable advance for a forthcoming book.
Three years earlier, there was a middle manager with a predictable paycheck and an inside track to a corner office in ten years. Perhaps not a bad career path, but certainly not what it could be. With one opportunity seen and seized rightly, the individual enlarged the field before him and changed his fortune forever. With the subsequent opportunities that bloomed, he then created a momentum of good fortune that was his to preserve. The same is available to you. You must only learn to see and grow opportunities rightly.
The significance and impact of your work has more to do with the momentum of opportunities you pursue than anything else. The quantity of opportunities is a smaller matter. The quality of opportunities is everything. This explains why a green twentysomething can birth Facebook while fortysomethings everywhere struggle to make ends meet-or why more people became millionaires during the Great Depression than during any other era of American history, including the dot-com boom.
Opportunities are always present, and rightly pursuing one can forever change the landscape of one's fortune.
The opportunities you see and grow determine the fortune of your career or corporate venture. Self-knowledge can give you insight. Experience can give you confidence. But the two are tamed without the right opportunities. One right opportunity pursued can elevate the potential of any career and any organization.
THE SCIENCE OF GOOD FORTUNE
We speak of things like "overnight success" and "a stroke of luck" as though they are shrouded in mystery. I will show you that most changes in fortune-those outside of betting luck-are no mystery at all. They are the result of a rare combination of four skills employed on a regular basis. Not every fortunate person is aware she is employing these activities, which explains why most experience good fortune only rarely and randomly. But those who learn to employ the quartet on a regular basis discover a reservoir of power greater than self-knowledge, greater than intuition, and greater than experience. And they thus tap into a reservoir of potential most never reach. The ability to earn serendipity will elevate a career or company quicker than any single force. If sustained well, it yields a tradition of success.
At times we witness one who seems to be in the midst of a lucky streak. But what appears to be one opportunity, one windfall, one great experience after another is actually the natural by-product of certain skills applied on a continual basis.
You see, serendipity is not governed by chance alone. I must concede there is an art to good fortune-certain occurrences cannot be fully explained or controlled. A middle-aged couple strolls through a Vegas casino on their way to meet friends for dinner. On a whim, the husband slides one quarter into a slot machine and hits a six-figure jackpot. We speak of his "good fortune," but such inexplicable occurrences are better deemed "luck." While they occur every day all over the world, they can be neither controlled nor explained. At best, we can appreciate them. But to lean on such lucky breaks-to lean on the art of good fortune-is no strategy at all. It is merely far-fetched hope. The odds of success are never in your favor.
However, there is also a science to good fortune. It can be earned, not by will, force, or manipulation, but by the application of four skills to your workdays. This rare blend of skills taps into an immense power that few ever take the time to understand, let alone master. Yet those that do hold sway not only in the workplace but also in society at large. I call the four skills the Four Leaves, and together they represent an uncommon crop-a propensity for good fortune that, when well managed, yields a tradition of success with opportunities perpetually budding. These Four Leaves are
1. Broadened Observation: The practice of seeing with circular vision
2. Extensive Innovation: The practice of sowing entrepreneurial seeds
3. Strategic Focus: The practice of growing seeds of greatest potential
4. Generous Purpose: The practice of sharing the harvest
I call the one who makes regular use of the Four Leaves a serendipiter: a socially conscious individual, or organization, who inspires innovation and initiative and thus propels good fortune for himself and his community. Applied daily, the Four Leaves expand the field of opportunities before you and all serendipiters, increasing your leverage, your influence, and your propensity for success. The Earning Serendipity Methodology plays out visually as shown in figure 1. It teaches a unique combination of entrepreneurial skills that yield a progressive workplace brimming with innovation and initiative.
The process of earning serendipity is very simple to understand when you assume the perspective of an immigrant. There is a reason we call the United States "the land of opportunity," but it is the immigrant who knows this better than anyone.
He comes to America with nothing but faith and hope, and he consequently views everything as opportunity. He is neither myopic nor careless in his pursuits but rather sees every relationship, every job, every dollar, and every day through the lens of potential. He thus sows entrepreneurial seeds wherever he goes-in people, in jobs, in new ventures and experiences-not knowing for certain which seeds will sprout but trusting that the more he sows, the greater the potential harvest. Some of his seeds sprout immediately-perhaps he is given a job that brings him a good income or perhaps he is given a loan to begin a business of his own. He cultivates these seeds through focus to ensure they grow to their potential. All the while, he continues sowing other seeds everywhere he goes. In time, something begins to happen-something we might call luck had we no knowledge of the man's habits: seedlings begin to spring up all around him.
Generous favors blossom into friendships. Odd jobs blossom into annual contracts. Coworkers blossom into supporters. Bosses blossom into advocates. Friends blossom into partners. Ideas blossom into enterprises.
Perhaps it seems the man is charmed. Opportunities spring from everywhere he looks. But did he not earn the growing harvest before him? Is not the increased income merely the fruit of his labor? Has he not earned the equity in relationships and leverage in enterprise?
It is so. And his harvest will continue to grow as he continues on this path. I must tell you, however, the rare combination of skills with which the man earned his serendipity is only potent as a quartet.
Many possess one or two of the Four Leaves in good measure. A select few possess three. Such individuals will experience good fortune in random spurts, but they will not produce a predictable, perpetual harvest. I will explain what I mean.
While one might gain a greater measure of advancement and success from (1) seeing with circular vision the best opportunities before him, one will not reap good fortune without also (2) sowing entrepreneurial seeds into each opportunity. We call those with the gift of keen observation "visionaries" or "idea people." They are brimming with suggestions for solution and advancement, yet they must rely on others to initiate action.
Furthermore, one may possess the skill to (1) see opportunities and (2) sow entrepreneurial seeds but then lack the skill to (3) grow seeds of greatest potential through focus. She, too, will not consistently earn good fortune. We call her a "go-getter" or a "self-starter." She is self-motivated and ambitious yet lacking in endurance. We appoint her to frontline selling but require other positions to complete the path to success.
And then a very small number will (1) see opportunities, (2) sow entrepreneurial seeds, and then (3) grow seeds of greatest potential through focus. Such people will climb high-they will lead divisions and launch companies and important ventures. Yet if they do not set out to (4) share their harvest with others, they will not sustain a momentum of good fortune. They will reap success, but the success will not multiply as it could. You have no doubt observed the rising stock of this fourth skill all around you-corporations call it "social responsibility" and individuals call it a "cause." Perhaps we are beginning to understand.
The one who employs the quartet of skills on a regular basis will find no shortage of good fortune throughout his or her career. Yet this momentum of good fortune is also sustainable for the organization that employs people skilled in each of the four arenas. And it is in this way-through the strategic employment of people skilled in (1) seeing opportunities, (2) sowing seeds, (3) growing seeds, and (4) sharing success-that an organization of any size will reap a perpetual harvest of good fortune.
There are thus two ways in which you might read this book:
1. As an individual who aspires to ensure a momentum of good fortune in your work
2. As a company that aspires to ensure a momentum of good fortune throughout the organization
To help you maintain both perspectives I offer profiles of people and organizations who have lived the Earning Serendipity Methodology: Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos, Costco, Google and Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and IKEA. These profiles are presented after each leaf is explained. Finally, I conclude with the ultimate serendipiter-Thomas Edison.
PREPARING FOR GREATER POSSIBILITIES
To create and sustain the momentum of good fortune-to earn serendipity- one must regularly employ the quartet of skills: (1) seeing the best opportunities, (2) sowing entrepreneurial seeds, (3) growing seeds through focus, and (4) sharing the eventual harvest. This practice of earning serendipity, my father once explained, is not governed merely by corporate laws but also by universal laws like attraction, responsibility, and reciprocity. The effectiveness of earning serendipity is not measured merely by unique visitors, volume, and profits but also by influence, compassion, and impact. Its time is not bound by nine-to-five but by birth and death. My father would conclude,
"�Ahora, que ve ante usted?"- Now, what do you see before you?
It is the same question I ask you now. What might your work look like if you possessed the skills to regularly see, sow, grow, and share the best opportunities before you? What might your company look like if your people embodied these four skills on a daily basis?
What you have missed is no matter now. What you must consider today are the discoveries yet before you. I assure you, some are already within reach. With the proper sight, your present can look quite different. With the proper skills, your future will change forever.
History sides with what I say.
An apple fell from a tree and a man saw something more than bothersome fruit. Isaac Newton saw an expanded theory of gravity.
A torsion spring fell from a worktable and a naval officer saw more than a clumsy spill. Richard James saw a Slinky.
A rubber compound spilled onto a tennis shoe and a chemist saw more than a stubborn stain. Patsy Sherman saw Scotchgard, a spill to protect against all spills.
A moldy culture of bacteria sat forgotten in a laboratory, yet a scientist saw more than dirty equipment. Alexander Fleming saw penicillin.
It is no coincidence that those to whom keen observation was second nature were those who historically made momentous, life-changing discoveries. Scientists are trained to look beyond the obvious. Explorers like Ericsson and Columbus have eyes to see more than what is expected. Such people know that while looking for a route to one country, one might discover something else entirely: a whole other country with a whole other set of opportunities. Perhaps now it makes sense to you that it was a famous chemist, Louis Pasteur, who said, "In the fields of observation, chance only favors the prepared mind." For certain, Pasteur was referring to the sciences. But is not the marketplace also a "field of observation"? It is. And in the world of enterprise, it is equally true that fortune favors those who are prepared to find it.
Excerpted from Earning Serendipity by GLENN LLOPIS Copyright © 2009 by Glenn Llopis Group, LLC. Excerpted by permission.
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