There’s a killer question one of my senior executives likes to ask of new people who are interviewing for a role at my company: “Do you think of yourself as a lucky person?”
This is a trick question, because there is a right (and a wrong) answer.
If you answer “No,” you will not be hired.
Let me explain. The executive asks this because he’s interested in whether interviewees have an optimistic view of life. He wonders if people feel they “get what they deserve” or if the universe does them one better, blessing them with great opportunities and people in their lives.
When we look for new employees at my company, we want a few essential ingredients, what we call SOAP: People who are Smart, Optimistic, Ambitious and Passionate. Some of my colleagues take this object lesson to its logical extreme and hand out bars of soap at our corporate training camps, reminding attendees (who are our rising stars) that we’re investing in them because they already have all the qualities they need to be successful.
I asked another one of our executives if he counted himself as a lucky person. He is, by reputation, intensely driven, totally in control of life and business and relentlessly polished. You’d think this approach to business would come from a guy who would say “I make my own luck” and “I earned everything through my own sheer will and drive.”
But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, he startled me by saying that he was an incredibly lucky person, that he has had amazing mentors, been blessed by a whip-smart and capable wife, a beautiful family, and has had far more opportunities given to him than he ever had reason to expect or … ugh, I hate this word … deserve.
He feels lucky. And when I look around me, that’s the quality I see in most of the people I work with. Luck is the evidence of optimism. And it’s so important because if you’re working with people who only believe they get what they deserve, sooner or later, they’re going to be disappointed.
Recently, I remarked on how lucky we are as I went with a colleague to get a coffee at the Tully’s located on the ground floor of our beautiful office building, Two Union Square in Seattle. It’s the city’s second-tallest building (the one with the enormous flag on top) and our corporate offices are sleek and modern.
She agreed we are lucky—both of us have had an unusual path into real estate after studying totally different things in college, but for both of us, our careers have flourished and been enormously rewarding. The office building (heck, even the cash to buy a four-dollar latte) was physical evidence of our incredible blessings.
I think back to high school, when I’d come up to Seattle from small-town Eugene, where I grew up, and went to my friend’s mom’s office in a nearby building. I went all the way up to the 25th floor and gazed out at the view of the Puget Sound from her office. I thought then that someday, I would like to be in an office like that.
And now, I’m even luckier, cruising up the elevators to the 48th floor where a panoramic view of everything—the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, the Cascade and Olympic mountains, Lake Union and Puget Sound—everything is at our feet.
I write this post as a simple reminder that life doesn’t always bring us what we deserve: many times, it’s much, much better. I’m lucky. I’m grateful. I’m counting my blessings today.
What are you grateful for? Look around you. GO.