By Philippa Baines
We are lucky
I enjoyed reading Jem’s blog about creating opportunities through hard work. I’m a great believer in this. However, I’d like to share my thoughts on ‘luck’ as a concept – I believe it does exist and having a healthy understanding of it can help you live a happier life.
When I worked in conflict journalism, I came into contact with soldiers. Albeit largely through telephone research, or ‘phone bashing’ as the industry like to call it. One of the big issues survivors grapple with is why they lived when others didn’t. More often than not, it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time.
Randomness and lack of meaning is not something humans are great at. We like to think things fit together as it helps with purpose and driving forward with work. To quote my mate, Vonnegut:
“I wanted all things
To seem to make some sense,
So we could all be happy, yes,
Instead of tense.
And I made up lies
So that they all fit nice,
And I made this sad world
Problem is, when you always think 1+1=2, you’ll end up in a place where if things don’t happen as planned, the results can leave you in a dark place.
Recently, I won no D&AD pencils. Was I disappointed? Of course. But did I care lots – no. Me and my partner Melina had given our best shot. And that is all, I think, you can do in life. Try. Did we lose because we had not thought enough and put more hours in?
I don’t think so.
The dice just didn’t land in our favour this time. I’m not saying people who did win were lucky, as any recognition is well deserved. But what I am saying is that even when you do win, you have to have a sense of humour about it.
For example, I really wanted to study Human Sciences and found out I’d got the grades. I was insanely happy. But then I found out the other girl offered a place was one UMS mark off an A. So wasn’t allowed in. That one exam, one random day in June changed someone’s life. Was it down to her lack of effort? I don’t think so. It was just bad luck.
Another example. I was trying to get placements at documentary companies July 2013 and was up in Sheffield for a big festival there. I was targeting Dragon Fly media and Garden Productions. Low and behold though, I meet the Head of Video at Vice and within two weeks I’m there for the launch of its News department. I created an opportunity for myself by being proactive. But then I hit, what many would consider, a bit more luck than I expected.
What you can’t do is put every success down to luck. You can create opportunities all the time. What’s really important though, is to expect very little from the end result of your work. By this I mean concentrate on the process always, rather than the result. Then, when you get what you want, stay humble.
I think every day there’s space to grow. People who persist with their dreams will win out. How quick they’ll get there I do think depends on a bit of luck.
Portfolio day is nearing. Some have placements, some don’t. Some have partners, some don’t. Some are in a brilliant working rhythm, some aren’t. The key is to keep trying, stay as relaxed and playful as you can. Through your efforts, you’ll create the luck needed for a great career. But a little bit of luck is required and it shouldn’t be a taboo word.