Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Roll the Bones

"Why does it happen? Because it happens.
Roll the bones." - Neil Peart

In many mentoring conversations and blog posts I've discussed issues around the weighty topics of luck and fairness. Whether the subject is about a mentee being passed over for a promotion, enduring job interview rejection or having a perceived inability to be a natural born speaker or leader - ultimately the individual wants to understand why things are the way they are and could they have done something to prevent whatever pain they are currently experiencing. Could they have taken less risks? Could they have studied more? Could they have been better networkers? Or has it all already been decided by a force out of their control?

The question of "why?" is one of the most enigmatic and motivational questions of the human race. Scientists use that question to drive themselves to devise experiments to explain what they observe in the world. Clergy use that question to drive the faithful even closer to their faith. Teachers use that question to open minds. Many times politicians use that question to close minds.

I am neither politician nor clergy. If anything I aspire to be a part-time teacher through mentoring. I cannot even begin to answer that question for my mentees in a truly meaningful way. But what I can do is wonder along with them if that question even matters.

"Bones" is a slang term for dice. In fact "dice" were originally made from the ankle bones of certain animals and called "knucklebones" leading to that nickname.  Dice have been used since before recorded history most often in games of chance. Humans, it appears, have had a very long and romantic relationship with the concept of luck. It's all fun and games until it's not.

If you've been reading this blog you'll know I'm a big believer in someone's ability to "make their own luck". I've often offered many quotes along the lines of "luck happens when preparation meets opportunity". All still true but what happens if, for example, opportunity never comes knocking? Bad luck. I believe you can minimize the influence of luck but you can't eliminate it completely. And when luck happens "to" you then you need to deal with it the best you can. "Why did it happen?" is no longer a question that matters. It happened. The sooner you deal with the situation at hand and plot your course for a better future the sooner you've worked to minimize the impact of luck.

Bad luck is also not a reason to avoid rolling the dice, trying new things or taking a risk. Other very famous and very powerful quotes remind us: "nothing ventured, nothing gained" and "if you've never made a mistake then you've never tried anything new" [Einstein].

Dealing with bad luck, making mistakes, taking risks in search of greater rewards is all part of the human experience and that's all reason enough. "Why?" isn't a question that can always be answered or even always needs to be answered. "It is what it is" as they say.

I wish you all a heart full of courage to persevere no matter the situation and a world full of good luck!

"Why are we here? Because we're here.
Roll the bones." - Neil Peart