What’s Luck Got to do With It?


It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

We live in a world where, for better or for worse, your level of success is often judged by how many Instagram followers you have. Or whatever. You get where I’m coming from.

There’s probably never been a time when we weren’t judged by how we outwardly presented ourselves–the kind of house we live in, the kind of car we drive, the kind of clothes we wear, the restaurants we eat at. But today, all that information is readily available on social media, 24/7.

And I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying it’s a thing.

I spend a lot of time online looking at and analyzing the content that other people are putting out. I’m constantly looking for new trends, better ways of doing things, how to beat the algorithm. And as I do, I see many, varying levels of success on social media; from people whose feeds I absolutely love and wonder why they only have a couple thousand followers, to those who have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers.

As I look at these accounts, I’m often trying to figure out what it is about that account that makes it successful.

I come from a very working-class family. My dad was a mechanic his whole life, and my mom stayed at home with us until I was old enough to take care of myself, and then she went back to work cleaning houses. We didn’t get anything we didn’t work for. In our house, the idea was, if you work hard, apply yourself, you’ll be successful.

So why then is it that one Instagram account has only a few thousand followers, while another, with similar content, has tens of thousands?

It could have to do with the date the account was started. Earlier to game usually means they got the jump and have gained more followers. Maybe the person with more followers works harder, trying to take better pictures, constantly exploring new hashtags, or spending more time engaging? Maybe they have a unique point of view.

Or maybe, just maybe, there’s an element of plain, dumb luck.

When I look back at my life, at the things that I would deem as major successes–there was an element of luck in them. Not that I didn’t deserve those successes. I did. I had worked hard to get to the place where I was. I had been, in a way, preparing for that success all along. But when the actual moment came–there was an element of being in the right place at the right time.

Take my cookbook for example. I was attending a food bloggers conference in Seattle, and I gave a talk there about how to use social media to drive traffic to your blog. That talk was attended by Bob Dees, who is the owner of Robert Rose Publications. He approached me after the talk and gave me his card. That introduction was the beginning of my cookbook.

Now, by the time this happened, I’d been a food blogger already for many years. I had experience in recipe development. I had the skill set. I just needed the right opportunity.

I think if you look at a lot of the top social media people out there, you may find a similar story. yes, they worked hard. Yes, they had a plan. But there was also maybe the tiniest spark of magic in there as well.

Can you make your own luck? I don’t know. I’ve never been able to make it happen. But I’ve also never been the kind of gal to go around whispering affirmations to myself. Maybe I’d be more successful if I did.

Or maybe fortuna audaces iuvat.

What do you think? When you look back at your successes, were they the product of hard work only? or was there an element of luck? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 4

  1. I believe that hard work pays off in the end, but the size of that payoff has more to do with with luck, opportunity, “who you know” and all those other less controllable variables. Good timing or a personal referral can get you in the door, but if you can’t deliver that door will soon be hitting your backside!

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