Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.Seneca

In my culture, this is a way to hope for luck. Preparing, looking for the opportunity, and then taking action work better for me.

In my culture, this is a way to hope for luck. Preparing, looking for the opportunity, and then taking action work better for me. Does hope work for you or do you have another way?

What does that mean?
At best, this quote is a very loose translation of him quoting something said by someone else. However, despite its questionable pedigree,  I believe this is a worthy quote, so let’s examine it.

People like to say they got lucky. And sometimes, what happened was simply that, blind luck. In my experience, more often than not, it is something much more than that.

Preparation in anticipation of something happening is a big part of being lucky. If you are ready for something to happen, you know what to do the moment it shows up, right?

Similarly, we rarely know when something great is going to happen. But when it does, we can act. If opportunity doesn’t show up, we have potential, but when the opportunity presents itself, we have to be ready to act.

Why is action important?
This almost sounds like a Hollywood script: Someone prepares for a long time, and then opportunity arrives, but they stand transfixed, and take no action. Has that ever happened to you? Opportunity knocks, and you are prepared, but you are afraid to act, or hesitate just a little too much?

Action is the part missing from this quote. Opportunity and preparation without action is like standing on the dock next to you ship, as it prepares to sail away. To me, that is not a pleasant thought. I’ve let it happen to me too many times. How about you, have you let your ship sail without you?

Action is what you get when you avail yourself to the opportunity and do something. Action is where you use all the actions and all the things that you have prepared, in anticipation of the chance. Together, preparation and opportunity, with action, yield luck.

Without action, all you have is a missed opportunity. Is action starting to sound a little more important? All the preparation in the world is useless if you fail to act. Having opportunities galore is useless if you fail to act. Taking action is that important.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Where have you let ‘luck’ slip through your fingers? For those who ever dated, life is usually full of such instances. I should have started a conversation. I should have brushed my teeth. Whatever it might have been, missing the opportunity or failing to prepare, you weren’t lucky that time.

But I’m sure there are other times when luck could have been yours, if only you had acted. If only you were better prepared. If only the opportunity had occurred. Working this quote into your life has three parts.

Preparation, in my opinion, is a series of contradictions which must be resolved. As a kid, I used to think that to be prepared, you needed one of everything in a huge backpack. You never know when you’ll need a set of tin snips, right? But how practical is that? What subset of things are required for you to feel prepared?

But now I am of the opinion that being prepared is being willing to do what is necessary to accomplish a task with the materials at hand. Preparing for something specific will require specific tools. It may also require specific skills and specific knowledge. Preparation to me means doing what is possible, and improvising the rest.

Opportunity, in my opinion, should be tailored to your expectations, and the likelihood of occurence. Also consider what you can do to influence the chance of opportunity arising. If you want to be hit by lightning (I wouldn’t recommend it), would you do better in a desert or the plains?

Is waiting on a finite, but vanishingly small chance much of a way to live? I’m talking lottery tickets here. Given the odds, one could go several lifetimes without winning even a mid-tier prize, much less the big one. I don’t think that’s a very useful way to spend our time, emotion, or effort.

Action, in my opinion, is the actual key to being lucky. As described before, the other two play their parts, but without action, you have bad luck, as what you wanted fails to come to fruition. That’s the breaks sometimes even when you do take action. But without action, it is guaranteed.

The question for you to answer is what can you do to prepare? What do you need to know, what must you be able to do, and what will make it easier to get the job done? What can you do to help the opportunity find you? If you’re looking for love, try not to look in the wrong places, right?

Finally, what will it take to overcome your fears and take action? For me, this is the toughest of the three. What holds you back? Fear of the unknown? Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of not getting what you truly desire? If you cannot name what holds you back, how can you ever tame it?

Take the time, find where you need to improve, and watch how your luck changes. Just remember to work on all three parts, and to refuse to look for excuses.

From: Twitter, @stoicrevival
confirmed at :…Seneca_the_Younger questionable at best…
Photo by Artotem

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9 Responses to Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

  1. mitch 5 October 2016 at 2:13 am #

    No sh@%, obviously if the person didnt react they would consider themselves unlucky. Idiot.

    • philosiblog 25 December 2016 at 7:11 pm #

      Sorry to see that you’re having such a rough day. Hope tomorrow goes better for you.

  2. Jim Ulvog 22 February 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Superb discussion!

    One of the beauties of that quote is the huge unstated question. How are *you* going to connect preparation to opportunity? If you can see the missing piece (which is you taking action), then it becomes easy to move.

    The radical technology change taking place around us has increased the opportunities available to everyone.

    Anyone can start a blog. Anyone can publish a book and push it out to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Anyone can record a song or a whole album and make it available.

    In terms the economists use, the barriers to entry have fallen to near zero.. The biggest obstacle is you deciding you want to take action.

    Thus, the wonder of your post. Great job!

    • philosiblog 23 February 2014 at 1:51 am #

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad you found it useful.

      And I agree, the barriers to entry in many fields is now simply the opportunity cost of not doing something else. Opportunity is not just knocking in many fields, but pleading on the doorsteps of everyone. Are we ready (prepared) to do something? Are we going to convince the couch to let go of us, and take the steps necessary to make a difference?

      Action, not words!

  3. tivrfoa 22 February 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Excellent post my friend. This quote reminded me of one quote that I created. Well, if I plagiarized someone, it’s unknown for me. =D
    You’re absolute right, action is the key. And I will add one thing: don’t be afraid to fail! This is one of the rules to success that Arnold Schwarzenegger told at his speech:

    • philosiblog 23 February 2014 at 1:49 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving the kind words. Glad you found it of some use.

      That’s why I don’t do my own quotes. All the good ones are taken. George S. Clason is cited as the source of that quote.

      Thanks for the input, I’ll be visiting it next week. 8)

      • tivrfoa 24 February 2014 at 12:17 am #

        Cool!! Thanks for remind me! lol man, I read his book (The Richest Man in Babylon) in 2006 I think. It’s a wonderful book. So much probably I get this phrase for this book. My memory is very bad. Of course I’m not smart enough to create this great quote!!! =D
        More from him:
        I liked this one: “You’ve learned the lessons well. You first learned to live on less than you earn. Next you learned to seek advice from those who are competent. Lastly, you’ve learned to make gold work for you.”
        ― George S. Clason

      • philosiblog 28 February 2014 at 5:13 am #

        Thanks for the kind words. Expect to see more of his words from time to time. Thanks for the nudge, I liked the book as well.

        As for being smart, you were smart enough to latch on to a good quote and not let it get away. Besides, which is more important, the quote, or the person who said it?


  1. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” | Outrun Change - 22 February 2014

    […] a quote attributed to Seneca in a post at Philosiblog with the same […]

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