How You Deal With Bad Luck Will determine Your Success

I was listening to somebody complaining about their bad luck yesterday. If I’m honest, they had had a tough time, Welsh Guards Ken Adamsbut – like most things – their perception of it all made it ten times worse.

They could have chosen to see their challenge as an opportunity but instead it reinforced their view that the world was a tough place, which got me thinking about how some people really roll with the punches while others get KOd first time.

Often it’s the challenges we face which turn out to be the very best things to happen to us – personally as well as professionally. Divorced? It leaves you open to meet someone more perfect for you. Bankrupt? Tough lesson, but you get to start over with a hell of a lot more wisdom. Redundancy? Take the cash, and the time, to reinvent your career… You get the picture.

One of the most profound examples of everything working out for the best that I’ve ever heard is a story my Dad shared with me of his time as a young Army Sergeant in Aden. It was 1966 and he was responsible for mortar fire control – not the easiest or safest of roles.

He essentially helped protect the engineering teams who were going out to dig wells and conduct other hearts-and-minds tasks for the local community. They’d come in and do their thing, and he’d be there to provide protection, and so always be the last to leave and return to base.

On this particular day, my Dad and a Private had been to Stores to pick up their equipment and a radio set, all ready to head out. They’d already checked their kit, but for some reason my Dad decided to check the radio again. This time, when he pulled the aerial out, the very tip snapped off. He told the Private to stay put and ran to the Stores get a replacement. Despite legging it there and back, by the time he returned to the main gate the driver who was meant to be picking them up had been and gone.

His heart sank! Missing the transport could be seen as being absent from his place of duty during a time of war, and that’s a super-serious charge which could even have led to a prison sentence. What frustrated him even more was that the driver’s only job was to pick them up – it was completely pointless to drive away without them…

Just as they were trying to figure out what to do next, an enormous explosion shook the ground and lit up the sky. The lorry that they should have been on had driven straight over an anti-tank mine and exploded a little further up the road.

Thankfully, the driver was in a mine-proof cab and so survived (but was so badly injured he was medically evacuated straight back to the UK). Had my Dad and the Private been in the unprotected rear of the lorry, they would have been killed instantly. 

He never did find out why the driver hadn’t waited, but this certainly was one of his luckiest days, and that one heart-dropping moment turned out to be one of the most blessed of his life. And it’s the same with business.

The ever-fabulous Jim Collins looked at just what role luck had when it came to the success of companies in his book Good to Great, and found that the super-successful had just the same amount as the unsuccessful ones. It wasn’t what happened to them which translated into bottom line results, it was how they dealt with it.

And the moral of this tale? Whatever happens, good or bad, just roll with the punches and keep going. After all, it may turn out to be your biggest blessing.

By Alan S Adams


As an award-winning business coach and bestselling author, Alan S Adams has helped hundreds of businesses across the UK to move from simply surviving to positively thriving. The publication of his second book Passion To Profit: 7 Steps To Building A Kick-Ass Agency and his third book, The Beautiful Business: Secrets to Sculpting Your Ultimate Clinic, sees him focus very specifically on creative agencies and aesthetic clinic sector, sharing advice and guidance with the potential to revolutionise turnover, client retention and overall growth. Alan was also recognised by Enterprise Nation as one of the UK’s Top 50 Advisors and APCTC Coach of The Year Finalist.

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