(This opinion piece is not at all about the fire at the chemical plant in Duson. I don't know how that fire got started, nor am I laying blame for the fire. This is simply about the word "luck", and isn't intended to point fingers at anyone but myself.)

I was thinking about luck last night, wondering "what exactly is luck?"

From the Google Dictionary:


success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.
"it was just luck that the first kick went in"
synonyms: success, prosperity, good fortune, good luck
"I wish you luck"
verb informal
chance to find or acquire.
"he lucked into a disc-jockey job"

(For real: the Google Dictionary definition gave an example that included "disc-jockey job" - how funny!)

What got me thinking about luck was some of the comments on Facebook about the chemical fire at the facility on I-10 in Duson: many of them included the word "luck": "we're lucky no one was injured"; "we're lucky the whole plant didn't explode"; "we're lucky the explosion didn't cause a truck on the interstate to catch fire", etc.

I saw one comment that said "I thank my lucky stars that the fire was contained" and it made me think "Hmmm, if your "stars" were "lucky, wouldn't there have been no fire at all?"

Don't get me wrong, I understand the sentiment: people are thankful that there were no injuries, and that the situation wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Back to luck: what kind of luck was it? Bad? Good? Tough? Blind? Beginner's? When we use the word "lucky", shouldn't we include which kind of luck? Was it bad lucky, or good lucky?

Eliyahu Goldratt said:

Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.

It appears to me that Goldratt is saying that luck isn't something that just happens; luck comes as the result of what you do. If you are careless, bad luck comes your way. If you are attentive and prepared, good luck comes your way. It sounds a whole lot like we could replace the word "luck" with the word "results".

I think that the idea of "luck" was developed to make us feel better about ourselves. When good things happen to us, we think "Wow, I am lucky!", which can give us a confidence boost. When bad things happen to us, we think "Wow, I've got bad luck" and, instead of taking responsibility for our lack of attentiveness or preparation, we shun responsibility and shrug it off to "bad luck".

Maybe we should remove the word "luck" from our lives and replace it with the word "results". When people say "I have bad results", maybe it will get them to try harder, pay more attention to detail and, eventually, improve upon their work.

When more people take responsibility for their actions this world will be a better place.


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