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Luck of a Successful Entrepreneurial Physician


Having the traits of a lucky attitude may help you take action when you feel stuck.

I am a fortunate person.

There’s so much that is right in my life, at home and in business. Yes, I have worked hard and still do so, but I’ve had much luck as well. And I’ve often reflected on it. So it isn’t surprising that an online article from the Harvard Business Review called “

Why Some People Have All the Luck caught my eye.

What was most interesting was who wrote it. Anthony Tjan was described this way as the “CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball. An entrepreneur, investor, and senior advisor, Tjan has become a recognized business builder.”

A hard-nosed money guy, who is focused on helping build businesses, writing in the HBR about luck? (And BTW, check out the

really fun way this company is presenting the bios of its people — nice human touch!)

What is he talking about? Are you surprised?

While researching for a book chapter he’s co-authoring, Tjan discovered that “Luck, alongside Heart, Smarts, and Guts — turns out to be a critical factor in entrepreneurial DNA and successful business-building.”

Luck in business appears to boil down to three ingredients that constitute a Lucky Attitude:Humility, or the ability to step away from self-aggrandizement and instead remain open to other options. If you are so busy bolstering your self-image with assumptions and know-it-all defenses, how can you make space for serendipity? How will you spot opportunity when it shows up in one of its many guises?

Optimism, or the “glass is half full” perspective.

writes in his excellent article

Stop for a moment. Ask yourself:

The Intellectual Curiosity that genuine humility permits and even encourages. Humble people don’t swell up and occupy the whole room. Instead, they leave plenty of space for the unknown, the unlikely, the less well-known … those people with possibilities. This enhances the chance that they will detect other options long before the narcissists.Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson PhD“Taking in the Good”: “By tilting toward the good ‘good’ in the practical sense of that which brings more happiness to oneself and more helpfulness to others you merely level the playing field.“You’ll still see the tough parts of life. In fact, you’ll become more able to change them or bear them if you tilt toward the good, since that will help put challenges in perspective, lift your energy and spirits, highlight useful resources, and fill up your own cup so you have more to offer to others.“And now, tilted toward absorbing the good, instead of positive experiences washing through you like water through a sieve, they’ll collect in implicit memory deep down in your brain. In the famous saying, ‘neurons that fire together, wire together.’ The more you get your neurons firing about positive facts, the more they’ll be wiring up positive neural structures.”

Do I have a lucky attitude?

If not, what’s needed for me to develop more Humility, Intellectual Curiosity or Optimism?

Am I willing to challenge myself to develop these traits, and so change my luck?

In a final word of encouragement, I recommend Benjamin and Rosamund Zander’s marvelous book The Art of Possibility, if you haven’t read it yet. It will provide much food for thought — and action — no matter how stuck you feel.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice