Preparation Sets You Up For Luck

I once heard Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, say “Not only do you need hard work, good timing, and passion, but you need some luck as well.”

Last weekend I competed in Ironman Canada, my 21st Ironman Triathlon. If you read my last post you’ll know how seriously I take the “hard work and passion” parts of Ballmer’s formula.

This week I’d like to share with you the roles timing and luck play.

After finishing the swim and bike portions of the race in good shape, the deep pain began as I set out on the marathon portion of the race. I started about 6 minutes behind the leading competitor in my age group. Those 6 minutes grew to about 12 minutes in the blistering 95-degree heat and the inner-soul truth was I wanted to stop, walk, and just check-out.

It was a sufferfest.

However, I knew quitting was not an option.

Calf muscles I never knew I had starting seizing up at mile 9 and I was frozen to a standstill…I couldn’t run…I was in trouble.

I saw my wife on the side of the course and I told her I needed salt really badly.

Just then a competitor in front of me told me he had just dropped his container of salt. Somehow he didn’t need it.

I stopped, picked up the container and started taking salt tablets. If it wasn’t for timing and sheer luck, my day would have turned out completely different.

Contrary to the popular statement I’d rather be lucky than good, I would rather be good than lucky. “Good” comes with hard work and sometimes, like during this race, good (and the hard work that gets you there) puts you in a position to capitalize on luck.

We need that in our business as well. Hard work puts us in a position to benefit from luck.

Thanks to the boost from the salt tablets I was able to close the 12-minute gap to 3 minutes with just 2 miles to go.

My oldest daughter yelled to me, “Dad, go get ‘em” and as unlikely as it seems to be able to find another gear 24 miles into a run (and after already having completed a 112-mile bike ride and 2.4-mile swim) her words energized me.

I crossed the finish line first in my age group earning a spot in my 7th Ironman World Championship in Kona this October.

I hope you’ll follow my journey to Hawaii on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. I’ll be sharing more stories about my training and how competing (whether it’s in triathlons or that early morning pick-up basketball game you join) can help you in your practice.


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