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I’ve had a number of people say things to me like, “well that’s all great, but you’ve got to be lucky” and “sadly, it’s all about who you know”. Well, I think those statements are right… except that there’s nothing sad about it. You need to be lucky and you need to know people. The good news is that you create your own luck, and if you are who you’d need to become and you do the things you need to do, then you’ll meet all the people you need to know.

Have you ever known someone who always seemed to get in trouble and could never seem to get out of their own way? No matter how hard they seemed to try they seemed to be the victim of circumstances conspiring against them? Well…that’s generally what tends to happen as the long term result of poor habits and bad decisions. Stupid things done in combination with other stupid things will produce situations where things that were done some time ago, will come back and bite you. Each story, when you look at it as an isolated incident, may sound like really bad luck. When you look at the bigger picture though, you may have a different perspective.

Let’s say that person got their car impounded because they were driving on a suspended license on their way home from the corner store. They were just going down the street and they didn’t even know their license was suspended. Crappy luck, right?! Well, not if you rewind a little to find out that they got their license suspended because they didn’t pay several tickets, which they shouldn’t have gotten in the first place. They hang out with equally clueless people who give them sympathy and keep them trapped into thinking that the world is against them. Short term thinking, about long term issues.

On the other hand, when you do the right things and associate with the right people, then over time, the opposite will happen. If you consistently add value to the lives of the people around you, then you’ll get value back in return. If you have good habits, a powerful set of beliefs and you work hard then you’ll be “lucky” in the long run. People and circumstances will seem to conspire to bring you good things, seemingly out of nowhere. That’s the thing about luck. It’s more of a long-term thing. It’s not often obvious how we’ve created the circumstances that bring us our good or bad luck. We can’t see the long term cause and effect, so we call it “luck”. It’s largely an illusion.

So the guy who lives in Pocatello, Idaho, is kinda lazy, drinks a little too much and hangs out with other people with their own bad habits, might tell you that making it is all about luck. Ironically the person who thinks it’s all about luck, will almost by definition, live a life of bad “luck”. It doesn’t matter how talented he or she is, nor should it. He is going to have to do certain things that go beyond music if he wants to be happy and successful.

Likewise, the person with the same level of talent who decides to move to Nashville, who believes they control their own circumstances, who is always looking to be around successful people with good habits and who works hard, will have a very different perspective on what it takes to make it. It takes time and you have to trust that the things that you do right may not produce immediate results, but in the long run, they will pay off in ways that you can’t yet conceive of. What I think some people fail to realize is that other people will come in to help you when you’re already on this path, doing a lot of things right on your own. If you move to a major hub of the music industry like Los Angeles, New York or Nashville, and you kill it every night, then rest assured, you will start to meet influential people.

Don’t write to me from your bedroom in Peachtree City, Georgia and tell me that the reason you can’t make it in the music business is because you don’t know people. You do need to know people, but that’s not the reason you can’t make it. The reason you can’t make it in the music business is because you’re afraid and because you don’t really believe you can do the things that you’d have to do to get noticed by those people. So my challenge to you, is to shift your focus away from the illusion of luck and “knowing people” and hold the mirror up to yourself. What are your fears that are holding you back? What are your shortcomings that you need to put some hard work into? What are your strengths that you need to develop? What are the difficult decisions that you need to make? How important is it that you make the right decisions?

Do you think Bruce Springsteen was lucky? How about Bob Dylan? Metallica? Stevie Wonder? Madonna? All of these people worked incredibly hard, made difficult decisions and made sacrifices. None of them were born into this world “knowing people.” They did what it took to get noticed and to create their own “luck”.

Besides, anyone who’s made it out of luck will be forgotten anyway. Why aim for that?

Luck? I don’t think so.

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