(Source of photo: kennedyross.co.uk)
I learned many life lessons in my 23 year Army career. One very important lesson I learned during my three year tenure as an Army recruiter was that we largely create our own luck.
Just like we don’t get to pick our parents, we don’t get to choose our lot in life when we are born. However, we don’t have to remain captive to our lot in life either.
Life is and always will be about the choices we make. Having a plan to get where you want to go in life is paramount because a goal without a plan is just a wish and while hope is a great thing, perhaps the greatest of things (I love the Shawshank Redemption), hope is not a strategy.
As a recruiter, I had a mission to accomplish (a “mission” is a euphemism for “quota” in the Army), and in order to accomplish that mission, it was imperative that I positioned myself to contact as many people as possible on a daily basis (even on weekends and after-hours), which increased the probability of meeting people ready to enlist in the Army. My choices created my luck. The recruits were not necessarily going to drop into my lap. I had to create the conditions to ensure my success.
Life in general works the same way, especially in this land of opportunity. Those willing to take the calculated risks and endure the crucible of working up the educational ladder, the vocational ladder, the social ladder, or any other metaphorical ladder one rung at a time with a will and a plan, will almost always find success and happiness.
The self-made millionaire didn’t get there by happenstance.
The kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth won’t remain rich as an adult making poor choices in life.
Of course, “success” isn’t about wealth. It’s about being happy doing what you want to do and living life on your own terms. Wealth is often a byproduct of living life on your own terms.
Success is about never having to work for the rest of your life because your life’s work IS your life.
If you are in a dead-end job you don’t enjoy, or living in your parents’ basement at age 30, or feel trapped in a bad marriage, none of that is the result of blind luck.
Conversely, if you are working a job you love, have financial security, have a loving family, and live in your dream house, that isn’t the result of blind luck either.
Both situations are by design, and I don’t mean “god’s design”. I mean YOUR DESIGN.
Life choices, even the bad choices, are opportunities to either give up and resign yourself to a certain level of happiness in life or to learn, grow, go back to the drawing board, and persevere.
Just like hope is not a strategy, giving up and failing to learn from your mistakes is not an option.
The world needs ditch diggers too, but if you know in your heart, mind, and soul that you don’t want to be a ditch digger, then why resign yourself to being one?
As I approach a half century of life on this planet, I look back on my life and I see lots to be proud of and many things I’m not proud of, but I have no regrets. I learned from my mistakes and I am exactly where I want to be in life.
Life is a journey, not a destination and the measure of a man is how he lived his life, not the life he lived.
-The Rational Ram