Good luck follows hard work

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. (Dr.) Brian Stanton
  • 509th Medical Operations Squadron Commander
Did you ever wonder why some people seem to have all the luck while others never get any? Ever watched and wondered how some climb the ladder of success so quickly while others never get off the ground? Is it all just dumb luck, or is there more to it? Benjamin Franklin wrote "I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

Sometimes those who are less accomplished attribute the successes of others as pure luck and blame their own misfortunes on that same uncontrollable force. But I think there is more to it than that. I'm not saying luck is some paranormal force that some have learned to harness. If you believe in that, just jump on the internet and there are dozens of sharks waiting to take a bite out of your wallet to teach you how to harness this energetic force and find luck. No, the force I am referring to is hard work.

Luck comes to those who are prepared. How do you prepare yourself? The specifics depend on what you want, but the underlying theme is discipline. For example, if I want to be able to take advantage of the next investment opportunity, I need to have discipline and save as much money as I can so I can leverage that opportunity.

However, if I spend all my money on video games and alcohol, then the opportunity will pass me by. But don't let me blame it on bad luck; I wasn't prepared to take advantage of the situation, in other words, to have good luck.

There are many ways to prepare for success. Probably the most basic element of preparation is education. A good education will train your mind to look for opportunities...not just in the classroom but in life. Sure, every once in awhile we read about someone who made it big without a college degree. Are you waiting for that to happen? It won't. So whether it's PME or a college degree, prepare your mind to excel with a good education.

Another way to prepare yourself is to know what you want - set a goal. I knew what I wanted to do early and life and I worked to achieve that goal. I set milestones; small, bite-sized goals to get me where I wanted to be. Along the way I learned how to recognize opportunities to help me get where I was going. After I reached my original goal, I set new ones, building on my success and challenging myself to do more. The more passionate you are about your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.

Another facet to success is attitude. A positive attitude helps me see opportunities instead of problems. When I find myself thinking of something as a problem, it's almost as if I build a wall around myself and can't find a way out.

Take writing this article. I don't like to write and when I do write, I tend to keep it very short. So when I got a deadline to complete an editorial for the base paper, I initially looked at it as a problem. Instant writers' block. Where am I going to find the time to write an editorial? What will I write about? I couldn't get anywhere as long as I dwelled on my problem.

Then I tried looking at it from another angle. I found a way to look for the opportunity rather than the problem. Maybe I can help someone. That's what we doctors do. How am I doing so far?

Don't quit. (Except for smoking--the Command Chief said you could be a quitter when it came to smoking so that will be our exception) But don't quit when it comes to goals. It's easy to quit. How many New Year's resolutions get shed by the end of January? It's too hard, right? Wrong.

Persistence wins. You may not succeed the first time. Don't let set-backs get you down. I've had many failures; plenty of "bad stuff" has happened to me along the way. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes I wanted to quit; maybe even started to quit. At least once circumstances dictated that I put things on hold for awhile. I didn't quit, I just waited them out. Persistence (and patience) got me back on track towards my goal.

I can't tell you how many times I've started down a path I thought would help me reach my goal only to find out I'd taken a wrong turn. So I might have to start over once in a while.

That's OK. That's different than quitting. Realizing you've made a mistake and starting over is good. It's like the poker player who realizes he has a losing hand. Cut your losses and find another way.

And don't go it alone. All of us have had help along the way. Whether it's a buddy helping you get through algebra class or a trusted mentor who illuminates a different path, it's not a foul to get help. I've had help from many friends and co-workers along the way...too many to count.

I even got a little help with this commentary... just enough to get me started. Thanks LT! Help others. The more involved you become in the lives of others, the more connections you make, the larger the benefits will be for everyone.

If you are working towards a goal, stick with it. If you've discovered this is not your path, make the best of it. Start working towards a college degree; do your professional military education. Even if you've decided the military is not for you or you are undecided, PME will help you, in some way, discover where you want to go and help you get there.

Whether you call it luck or success, hard work will lead you there: education, goals, attitude, persistence, patience and networking. None of it is easy. If it was, the payoff wouldn't be nearly as sweet. Good luck!