Have you ever walked out of a contest room thinking you did a poor job to find out you placed 1st or 2nd? For me, it was the District 2 Extemporaneous Public Speaking Contest. I came out of the room knowing my time was way shorter than required, but my speech was spot on. I still placed 2nd. Most people would just say that it was luck. Luck: “Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.” I don't believe in the textbook definition of “luck”.
The textbook definition of luck raises questions when you read it and sounds like a mythical thing. This mystic luck is harmful to us if we truly think about it. Instead of rewarding our determination and effort we put in to do well, we just believe we got lucky.
Opportunity: “A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”
When we see an opportunity and take advantage of it, no matter the outcome, we step away from our comfort zone and leap into the growth zone. In the growth zone we can sometimes find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, possibly doubting our ability to do something. If we push ourselves beyond our doubt, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow. We can think about growing ourselves in many different ways, such as how to complete a task more effectively. Or something more significant like taking the task we did and refining ourselves to do it better, figuring out our weaknesses, and building those weaknesses up to strengths.
Preparation: “The action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration.” Oftentimes we have some form of preparation before we complete a task. Whether it's our advisors guiding us through a project or connecting us with multiple different sources to get information, we have some way of preparing for whatever the task is. This is a big part of being successful. You cannot jump into a task without seeking valuable information or asking someone to help you prepare for whatever it is in life.
I heard a quote from my principal that was from the Roman Philosopher Seneca my freshman year of high school, and once again at graduation. He read to us, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Ever since I heard that quote, I have always thought of luck this way.
We find ourselves preparing for lots of different things in life. Whether we recognize each of them or not, we learn so much throughout high school that will help us at some point in our life. Whether we land a future job or get a promotion, it wasn’t just this “luck” we all think it is. It's the time we took to prepare ourselves for the opportunity we have, as well as our determination to do well.
The next time you may not compete as well as you anticipated, but see the results you were seeking, ask yourself about it. Was it “luck”? Or was it the preparation and determination you had to get to that result?
2022-23 Indiana FFA State Treasurer