Live Your Best Lesson 2: Understand the Nature of Luck
You just might get lucky—and that’s not being trite.
During our race, Lady Luck showed up a number of times on our behalf. As I’ve said before, it’s those who stay in the race who so often seem to get lucky. I can guarantee you this: give up and you’ll never see luck. The truth is that none of us know the end of our stories. There are those times when we’re convinced that there can be no positive outcome and we just want to quit. If that’s not the time to persevere, I don’t know when is. When you’ve gone as far as you can go, you gut it out and hold on. You persevere until you’re thrown off the race, but you never leave of your own accord.
I was “lucky” enough to be in the ten percent of individuals with Parkinson’s who are diagnosed before the age of fifty. I was also “lucky” enough to be chosen out of ten thousand applicants to be among the nine teams to run The Amazing Race Canada. And how in the world were we “lucky” enough to win the race? I certainly don’t believe that life is merely a bunch of random lucky moments. But whether you call it luck or divine intervention, there are many times in life when we’re left baffled, scratching our heads, wondering how in the world something came about. Everyone experiences that. Then there are times when something extraordinary happens, and we’re so grateful that we hadn’t given up. Those moments come only to those who choose to stay in their race and persevere.
During the final task, it was such sweet success to stand in front of that giant map and know I had the information I needed. Watching it later on television was actually even better. As the race unfolded on TV, some on social media continually derided us as being merely lucky. It was often said that we didn’t deserve to still be in the race, either because we’d hit the non-elimination legs or, for some, because we’d used the U-Turn. The flags-and-flowers challenge was our vindication.
Sure, we were lucky, but not with the flags and flowers. You either knew them or you didn’t, and we knew them. Sheryl had reminded us to pay attention, and we had.
And therein lies an incredible life lesson. It reminds me of that old saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” We were lucky in the race, and it sure helps when we get lucky in life. However, we also worked hard. We’d made the decision to do our best. In the end, that was good enough.
Not only is doing your best all you need to do; it’s all you can do. Sure, there are times when we need to stretch ourselves, to press more fully into a given task, but really, we’re only ever trying to do our best. The race taught me to ask the honest question—What will my best really look like today?—and then work toward living that reality.
It’s always the right decision to push hard, to work hard, to prepare and then lean into the task at hand. This is what it means to do your best. Included in that thought is the idea of simplicity. I tend to overcomplicate my life, to strive in making things happen. I’ve come away from the race with a greater appreciation of what it means to simplify my existence by understanding that this doesn’t mean working less hard or relinquishing great aspirations. Rather, it means stripping away the excess in order to focus on what’s most important. In part, this is what it took for us to ultimately win the race.
This is the foremost lesson I carry through life, now that I live with Parkinson’s. With all I’ve been given in life, I feel the obligation to find ways to encourage others, and to live with as gracious an attitude as possible. When we get up and do our best, luck often follows.
This blog post is an excerpt from the book
Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined.
Order your copy of the book.