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“I get out/ I get out of all your boxes/I get out/You can’t hold me in these chains/I’ll get out/Knowing my condition is the reason I must change…”

These were the words Lauryn Hill sang to me as I slept, and I woke up remembering something exceedingly important – I will get out.  I will get out of all the boxes I’m in.  All my bonds – self-imposed and those inflicted on me by others – I will get out.

What caused this sudden revelation (again) was my recent completion of the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  In Gladwell’s book he talks about the practical science of success if you will.  His argument is based on the premise that when we see people’s success, we are actually seeing the culmination of their combined preparation, skill and sheer luck. He notes that all of the above must be present because there are those who have skill but no luck, while others have luck but aren’t prepared when an opportunity arises.

Taking Gladwell’s theory into consideration I had to admit that his pretenses have indeed held true for my own life.  How many times have I had an opportunity but was unprepared? How many more times have I been prepared without the good fortune of a little luck? And what about all the times I have been approached for an opportunity for which I was not qualified nor had the skills to undertake – think of something comparable to working on a team of astrophysicists who believe they have discovered the disparities in the space-time continuum which make teleportation a nearby reality. Yes, while I would love to believe I’m brilliantly competent in so many things, astrophysics is not among them.

It seemed there was something to Gladwell’s theory.  While Gladwell provides numerous examples of successful individuals and organizations from the modern world, he does little to discuss how such a formula can be replicated.  Instead, he leaves it up to the reader to figure it out.  Obviously, those most determined to be successful will do their best to decode the theory and implement it in their own lives (myself included).

While I am not promoting Outliers – I don’t receive compensation from Gladwell, his publishers or anyone else for recommending it – I will say I highly recommend that if you read it, you consider participating in the following supplemental activity: Create your own luck.

If there is one thing that is in short supply – it is opportunity.  When all else is said and done, you will have plenty of chances to hone your skill and prepare for a lucky break. But lucky breaks are in short supply.  So instead, break out of all those boxes.  Successful people are outliers because they go against the norm.  They don’t do what is expected or even plausible.  Successful people take risks; they hurdle obstacles in leaps and bounds.  They charge off the side of imaginary mountains and land on their feet, standing only on faith.

True, some people have a headstart with success. Their parents are successful and their grandparents were successful.  They come from affluent homes where the right education, the right connections and the right opportunities have all been paid for with another’ person’s time, talent and energy.  But what about those who come from nothing or less than nothing, they make it too.  And more so, they are the extreme outliers.  The ones who build and sustain.  The poor and destitute know what it is to be resilient and resourceful; to work hard and long.

If you are looking at your life today and you want more – then go get it.  Be more than just a dreamer, be a doer.  Go out and create your own luck. Would you like to be the sole supplier for a major company? Have you already done your homework, are you prepared? Then make your own luck! Do your research, find out who to call and get in the door! Are you ready to jump into a new role at work – or maybe step out and work for yourself? Create your own luck! Draft a proposal, ask to meet with your boos and state your case.  Or take your proposal and survey friends to see if any of them (or someone they know) could be a potential client.

And remember, along your road to success should you notice folks seem to be more “out there”, ideas seem more outlandish, circumstances seem more surreal – relax, it means you’re busting out of your box and getting further up the mountain. Welcome!

Carpe diem and Namaste!