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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you toil away to be lucky?

Today is January 12 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “How often do you toil away to be lucky?” While navigating the chaos it is inevitable to come across someone who figured out how to translate their dreams into reality. If you ask them how they attained their success they, or someone close to them, might attribute it to luck. “They got lucky,” or “I got lucky.”

Those two statements are said a lot when examining how people navigated the chaos and practiced the art of living well. Luck is often defined as “what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Often attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, this definition of luck provides the focus of today’s reflection since it generates the following list of questions:

  • How hard are you working to be prepared when an opportunity comes your way?

  • How often are you on the look out for the next opportunity?

  • an opportunity crosses your path, how do you respond?

  • If an opportunity arose today, would you be prepared to take advantage of it? If not, why?

  • How many times have you said someone ‘got lucky’ but, in reality, they were prepared when an opportunity came across their life path?

  • Do you believe luck is where preparation meets opportunity? If not, what is your definition of luck?

  • How long are you willing to work to be prepared? A few months? A few years? Over a decade?

American poet Emily Dickinson wrote about luck in her poem Luck is not chance. The full poem reads:

“Luck is not chance,

it’s Toil.

Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.

The Father of the Mine

Is that old-fashioned Coin

We spurned.”

In other words, you are going to have to work hard to be lucky. You will most likely need to wait years to be lucky. As Dickinson wrote, you are going to have to earn your fortune. So, if you work very hard, and wait any number of years, then you might just get lucky. Scott Foster did.

Emergency goalie Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who toiled away in an elite amateur hockey league for years was prepared for luck on March 29, 2018. Foster was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL) to an amateur tryout contract on the eve of their March 29, 2018, game against the Winnipeg Jets. At the time Foster was playing in a rec league at a rink called Johnny's Icehouse. He had a .875 save percentage at Western Michigan University and his earlier career for the Petrolia Jets of the Western Ontario Hockey League.

The Blackhawks signed Foster as a backup goalie for the game since the presumed starter Anton Forsberg was sidelined by injury. No stranger to attending the games and being on call as the backup goalie, he did so 15 times before, Foster never dressed though as he usually went to the press box to have a bite to eat and watch the games. The night of March 29, 2018, however, he finally dressed for the first time.

Before the mid-way mark of the third period, Blackhawks starter Collin Delia, who was also making his NHL debut that night, was injured, forcing Foster into NHL action for his debut. He saved seven shots out of seven in about 14 minutes of play, becoming the first emergency goaltender to ever stop a shot, and preserving a 6–2 Blackhawks' win. Although Delia was credited with the win, Foster was named the game's first star.

In a post-game interview Foster told reporters "I don't think I heard anything other than, 'Put your helmet on,'” when asked how we felt about stepping out onto the ice as the Blackhawks goalie. "The initial shock happened when I had to dress," Foster told delighted reporters after the game. "You just kind of black out after that."

Foster toiled away for years and got lucky one night to play professional ice hockey. He continued to play hockey at the rec league level and, when the opportunity presented itself, he was ready. As professional golfer Gary Player once noted “the harder you work the luckier you get.” Foster worked hard for years and got lucky to make his dream come through.

  • Are you toiling away for years to get lucky?

  • What is holding you back from working harder to increase your chances of getting lucky?

  • What excuses are you telling yourself about the path you are on?


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