TN50#6, What’s Your Definition of Luck? 1 February 2021

Hi Team,

Happy Monday and welcome to TN50#6!

What is Luck?

Seneca is credited with saying luck is preparation plus opportunity.  Put another way, we make our own luck.  I would like to offer that in some cases there can be a 3rd variable in the luck equation.  Some experience it regularly, others may only glimpse it a few times in their life and most never experience it.

In 1997 my good friend Kevin volunteered to participate in the 1997 Best Ranger Competition.  Kevin was an extremely talented (stud) Team Leader in the 82nd Airborne Long Range Surveillance Detachment (LRSD).  The reason I am bringing this up is because I wasn’t there when Kevin volunteered to do Best Ranger, but Kevin, being Kevin, knew I would not want to miss out on a suck-fest like Best Ranger.  He volunteered me to be his team mate – love that guy!

The Best Ranger Competition takes place in Fort Benning, GA – home of the Infantry School, Ranger School and multiple elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment.  The competition takes place over 3 days and includes a bunch of really fun technical skills testing opportunities and gut checks.  Basically 3 weeks of great training jammed into 60 hours.  You can look at the competition here: and here:

From “volunteering” to competition we had about 6 weeks to prepare.  I mention this because we were in a Peace Time Army back in 1997 and many teams began their train-up about 6 months before the competition.  Our boss brought Kevin and I into his office for a little expectation management, he told us that it was fine that we volunteered for the competition but we were set up for failure because we didn’t have enough train-up time.  He basically said we most likely wouldn’t finish the competition because we couldn’t be prepared.

Fast forward a few weeks, Kevin and I didn’t win the competition but we did finish in 9th place overall, not bad for “wouldn’t finish”.  About 30 teams started the competition that year and only 10 teams finished. the unknown distance road march claimed a lot of hearts and minds that first night.  I guess you could say that Kevin and I were lucky.

In late 1998 I decided it was time to “put my money where my mouth is” and applied to go to Selection for a very unique US Army Special Operations Unit.  I made it through the “paper” screening and would attend the Spring, 1999 Selection Course.  At that time, I was still a paratrooper in the 82nd LRSD.  My boss brought me in and sat me down yet again.  “Alex” he said, “you are going to physically pass selection, but don’t get your hopes up on getting selected because ‘They’ don’t take guys from the 82nd…”

When it was all said and done I did pass the Stress Phase of Selection.  Next stop, the board.  Would they take a chance on one of those 82nd guys?  In this case, yes, yes they did!  I guess you could say I was lucky.

Over the next 17+ years of service I personally witnessed the most amazing examples of luck.  The kind of luck a Navy SEAL could only dream of writing books about (Yes, I realize it is ironic to make fun of Navy SEALs writing books in a story I am writing).  The kind of luck that, looking back, makes me realize there is a third variable.

Back to the beginning: What is luck?

My 8-year-old Luke would say he is lucky if his Nerf guns shows up 2 days earlier than expected from Amazon.  Everyone says lottery winners are lucky and this fits Seneca’s definition as they have to prepare (buy a ticket) for the opportunity (having the winning numbers). I agree with Luke and Seneca but what about this?

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity + Audacity

Audacity is the 3rd variable.  Audacity, meaning a willingness to take bold risks.

Luck equals preparation plus opportunity plus audacity.

Looking back, I’ve seen it more times than I can count.

This definition isn’t for everyone.  Is it for you?  Try this Million Dollar Question.

Would you rather?

Win a million dollars playing the lottery


Build a business and eventually make a million dollars, say in a year

I know my answer.  What’s yours?  What kind of luck will you make in 2021?  I am asking this question because I realize my luck has been more of the preparation plus opportunity variety recently, but I’m pretty sure, God willing, my luck is about to change.

As always I would love any feedback and please share this with your team or anyone who might find it useful.

Have a good one, Alex