Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets OpportunitySeneca – Roman philosopher
I’m quite a fan of (among others) the roman writer/philosopher Seneca. His letters to his friend Lucillus can be very inspiring, even today. One of the famous quotes attributed to him is about Luck. In life, in business, it seems luck can play quite a big role. Where this quote gets thrown a lot by (semi-) successful people at random, it’s probably not in the way that Seneca meant it. He was quite a rational person, one of the big philosophers of Stoicism.
So what does it mean?
He actually doesn’t deny the fact that some things just happen and that sometimes people are helped by random things. Sometimes these random things can also be bad. The existence of luck also means that some experience the lack of luck, called misfortune. In the end for Seneca this quote helps establish that there are things within your sphere of influence and there are things you cannot control whatsoever.
What luck means for Lean Business Generation
How I interpret Seneca’s quote, and how it links to Lean Business Generation, is that while luck exists, we shouldn’t count on it, but acknowledge it can be there. In life as in business, anything can happen. That’s nature, the Universe, or according to the religious romans it’s ordained by the Fates. But a strong lesson in Stoicism which I also see in the original ideas of lean is that we actually should plan for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Markets can turn, customers can change their mind on what they want or what they need. Wars happen, global pandemics happen. There’s no point in fighting, or worse, ignoring that reality. One should accept that it can happen as step one. Step two is to realise there’s nothing you can do about it.
So the two most important parts of the quote are about the preparation (by means of a process- and customer focus) and by recognising the opportunity once it presents itself. The good thing is that when you have a process you can rely on, you needn’t worry and can keep your eyes open for the opportunities. There are many out there.