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Lucky or fortunate? It's a matter of intention...


Peter McCormick

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Reading Paul MacCormack's recent blog post about the concept of intention got me thinking... as good blog posts do. In this case, it prompted me to think of the popular concepts of luck and good fortune, and how each may or may not be related to intention.

I come from a long line of wordsmiths (writers, editors, a photojournalist, newspaper people, even a dictionary editor) who instilled in me a love of language and its various nuances. My maternal grandmother, an author of children's first readers back in the early 1900s, told me early on that the "best thing you can ever do for yourself is to learn the King's English".  Hence my interest in words, and accompanying irritation at (among other things) the popular use of apostrophes to pluralize something (yes, I've read Eats, Shoots & Leaves).  But I digress...

If one looks up the dictionary definitions of luck and fortune, one might get the sense that they have the same meaning.  According to Webster's, luck is "a purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favorably or unfavorably for an individual, group or cause".

If one looks up the dictionary definitions of luck and fortune, one might get the sense that they have the same meaning...

The historical concept of fortune comes from Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck and fate who was deemed the personification of chance events (good and bad).

In modern usage the concepts of luck and fortune have diverged a bit. Luck is more closely identified with chance or other random factors beyond one's control, where fortune is often used to denote the result of intention, as Paul described in his blog post.

I often hear people in this industry exclaim how lucky they are to be able to work in it.  I agree that it's a great industry, but would also counter and say that, no, they aren't lucky... they are fortunate.  Chances are they intentionally chose an agronomy track in college and their career followed, each step a result of planning, intention and hard work.

Chances are they intentionally chose an agronomy track in college and their career followed, each step a result of planning, intention and hard work...

Luck means winning the lottery... missing an airport connection where the plane ultimately crashed... being born into a favorable situation... or randomly choosing the correct answer on a multiple choice question when you really had no clue (ring a bell, anyone?).

People often tell me I am lucky to be able to live and earn a good living in a nice place like Vermont.  Well, not really.  I am able to live in Vermont because 20+ years ago I intentionally started a business that allowed me to intentionally work from home (wherever that is) and after the kids flew the coop would allow me to intentionally move wherever I chose to be.  So, I feel very fortunate to live here, but luck doesn't have a lot to do with it.  Intention has everything to do with it.

So, if you haven't done it yet, read Paul's blog post and think about how directed, focused intention can indeed play a big role in good fortune.

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Nice, Peter.

 

I use these quotes in a talk I give on professional development:

 

"We must believe in luck, for how else can we explain the success of people we don't like?"

Jean Cocteau 1930

 

"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."

Lucius Seneca 36AD

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