We’ve all heard these “crazy luck” stories about someone who found their next deal, or their next job, or their realtor, or their dependable plumber – anything – because they struck up a conversation with the person next to them on a plane, at a game, at a bar, at a party.
These stories aren’t crazy. And there is nothing “lucky” about them. These stories are the result of intention, and consistency, and practice, and skill. These are stories about people making their own luck. This has been said a lot of ways. I like the way Branch Rickey said it.
Branch Rickey was the president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s. It was Rickey who worked with Jackie Robinson to integrate major league baseball. Rickey said:
Luck is the residue of design
We don’t know who people are, or who they know, and every time there is an opportunity to say hello, start a conversation, or make a connection – we should take it.
This doesn’t mean that we should run around to random places and talk to random people. We should combine wide-eyed optimism with hard-nosed realism. We are always looking for the best places to find the best people who can help us. If we are looking to make sales in IT, we want to go where there are lots of IT people. If we want to become jazz musicians in New York City, we want to hang out in jazz clubs. This makes sense. We want to be smart about our choices.
At the same time, our lives are full of moments that aren’t part of the “plan.” Our lives are full of moments when we have the opportunity – if we take them – to make connections to the people standing next to us. The worst thing that can happen is they brush us off. Okay, no problem, no big deal. Lots of times we have a conversation for a few minutes. Sometimes, we meet someone interesting and helpful to us. So let’s make starting conversations with people a habit. Many good things in life get started with a smile and the word Hello.