I was talking to a friend the other day and they uttered the two words that I despise the most, “You’re lucky.“ In this particular case, it happened to relate to me not having a boss, able to work from home and have a business that generates passive income. The simple fact of the matter is that every single penny that UESCA generates is the result of strategic planning, intuition, persistence, hard work and risk taking. And to be clear, I don’t have one boss – I have hundreds of them in the form of UESCA coaches and soon to be coaches – all of whom I’m accountable to!
All too often, people look at one’s success, whether it be in business or sport through the lens of luck and thus a random occurrence. These are people that inherently do not understand everything that is involved to make something happen – namely, progress.
You see it sports all the time. The cyclist that missed the big pothole and didn’t crash when everyone else did. The ultrarunner that didn’t succumb to an upset stomach when many others did. The triathlete that attained a PR when most all others faltered. To the casual observer, these examples may appear to be ‘lucky.’ However, on closer inspection, it turns out that the cyclist pre-rode the course at speed to know what line to take to avoid the pothole… the ultrarunner spent countless hours trialing a variety of food/drinks in various conditions to know what their stomach could handle on race day… and the triathlete knew that it was going to be windy due to the forecast and put on low profile rimmed wheels to minimize the effect of crosswinds. Luck? Not so much.
Many times, we only hear about people once they hit stardom, whether it be in sports or business. What we don’t often hear about is the hours, days, weeks, and years spent perfecting their craft that got them to where they are today. While success is often passed off as being at the right place at the right time, being genetically predisposed or knowing the right people – the reality is that ‘luck’ is really a combination of persistence, attention to detail, hard work and taking the appropriate amount of risk.
By attributing positive things to being ‘lucky,’ it also connotes that the opposite must be true – negative things are the result of bad luck. Big deal right? It’s just words and semantics. Well, not really. By saying that things are the result of bad luck, it means not taking responsibility for what happens and thus a lack of accountability. Dismissing things in this manner leads to a bigger problem. Since there is no accountability taken, there is no effort made to improve which leads to stagnation at best and regression or cessation at worst.
Play The Long Game
One question that I get asked a lot is, ‘How long will it take to build up a coaching clientele?.’ When I get this question, I often shudder. Primarily because there is no correct or right answer to this. While I understand that it would be great to have 10 athletes sign up on one’s first day of coaching, this isn’t how it works. Like any other business, building a coaching practice is a process and takes time. Those that play the short game in respect to developing their coaching practice are likely to be disappointed and will also likely attribute luck as the main variable to those that played the long game and were successful.
One of the reasons why I enjoy building a business is that it takes the same focus, discipline and skillset as developing as an athlete. The beautiful thing about sport is that it cuts out all the BS and presents a clear picture of what is needed. Slow? Then do speedwork. Bad at technical cycling skills? Get on a mountain bike and learn how to navigate tricky terrain. This is why when I get stuck with a work-related issue, I often reframe it through the lens of sport (cycling in my case) and 9.9 times out of 10, I’m able to gain clarity whether it be how much risk to take, should I continue with the current way of doing things or should I partner with an organization.
Whether it be your results as an athlete or your coaching business success (or lack thereof), luck has no part of it. And should any of your athletes attribute good luck, or bad luck as the reason for a particular outcome, I would strongly encourage you to address this right then and there – as this type of thinking leads to much greater consequences down the line. As the saying goes, “you make your own luck.”
Rick Prince is the founder/director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA), a science-based endurance sports education company. UESCA educates and certifies running and triathlon coaches (cycling and ultrarunning coming soon!) worldwide on a 100% online platform.
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