Lucky, not lucky

Nov 04, 2019

Don’t put your wins and losses into the magical hands of fortune. It’s better to look at your career as a product of your own actions.

Luck affects your career. But, luck is also an excuse. It gives you no agency or authority over your life. Luck can be used in the most desperate of times to excuse a shortcoming. Many of us are also guilty of giving luck credit for our hard work. The dismissal of achievement, as a stroke of luck, was something I did early in my career. I couldn’t see my life moving from one rung of the ladder to the next without some magical hand lifting me up.

My career and my life took a turn when I decided that my shortcomings were my own fault. When I learned I wasn’t very good at any one aspect of my job, I chose one thing to focus on and put the time into it to become the best. This focus helped me become recognized as a person who pays attention to detail, which led to further opportunities for growth. Those opportunities could be described as a lucky break, but then I would be giving up my hard work to some mythical department in the clouds.

The way I found an area to focus on was through my weaknesses. My weaknesses indicated to me where to look for career potential. To turn this weakness into an opportunity required an assessment of my ability to achieve. I knew that I could do better at the chosen area because I wasn’t even focusing on it before.

The opportunities experienced in your career will reflect the way you experience your failures and successes. My change in attitude only came to me because of a healthy conversation I had with one of my managers. This conversation lead me to ask these three questions:

  1. What are the current limitations that could make my career vulnerable?
  2. Where am I not performing in my daily duties?
  3. What do I see as a weakness and how can I use it as an opportunity?
  4. Action item: Answer these three questions about your career. Seek feedback from a trusted advisor. Move closer to your best performance.

Kyle Cheerangie is a project manager at HNTB Corporation, and is the founder and director of content for the blog Engineered Journals. He can be reached at

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