Is It Luck or Business Leadership Skills?

Luck or lack of determines much of our success

When I decided to turn my HR career around, I went all in. Go hard or go home.  I began reading human resource materials, connecting with anyone that I could find who was remotely interested in HR.  I’m fully dedicated to what I loved.

I’m starting to receive the benefits of all that work.  Once I took control of my career and stop being passive, things changed (try it).  I’ve been getting some incredible opportunities. Makes me wonder sometimes,  am I that good?

Leadership Advice:  “Am I” vs. “I Am”

When you start to receive success, accolades and opportunities it can be difficult to remain humble.  How would you have perceived me had I began my article with “Hey y’all, I’m the bomb?”  Probably as a conceited jerk. Some of the best leadership advice I received is, “Humility is a far more attractive characteristic.”

Derek Rose of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, and the youngest MVP in league history, is a great example.  Whenever he gets an award or a win, he always thanks God, his mother, his teammates and coaches.  He’s the frickin’ MVP. He could say “Oh yeah, I work hard and I am that good!”  Because he does work hard and he is that good but if he says that, he’d be a douchebag.

At the funeral of Whitney Houston, multi-platinum entertainer, Grammy Award winner and actress, Kevin Costner, who co-starred with her in the film “The Bodyguard” said that Whitney wrestled with the question “Am I that good?”  She was already a success at that time, yet she questioned herself.  Because that’s what the great ones do, they never accept that they are good enough.

“I am that good” is more of a self-promoting motto that’s associated with irrational brash thinkers.  By declaring “I am that good” you’re leading yourself to compliancy and entitlement.  “I’m that good so you should follow me” or do as I do; that’s not cool and let’s remember there’s always someone better.  It’s a powerful reminder and advice for any leader.  Asking the question pushes the thinker to be their best, it drives them to greatness.  They consider themselves lucky and are always wanting to prove that they are worthy of attention and opportunities they receive.

Luck or Business Leadership Skills?

Luck plays a part in this “Am I” versus “I am” philosophy.  According to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” people practice and study to become experts but not all Outliers are very successful.  The successful ones were really lucky.  But sometimes they also worked very hard learning, honing, and perfecting their craft as well as their business leadership skills or whatever their gift may be.

Many people proclaim “I am that good” when in actuality they are lucky.  Someone gave them an opportunity.  They know a friend of a friend… so on and so forth.  Our luck (or lack of) determines much of our success.  Luck can be as simple as when and where you were born.

No one makes it alone; it takes hard work, practice and luck.  Then you get an opportunity like this one; writing an article that’s going to be read by thousands of people, from various walks of life, in different countries all over the world.  I am sincerely honored and so much so that I had to ask myself, “Wow, Am I that good?”

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work.  He’s known on the Twitters as @new_resource.  Connect with Chris via email at

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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.

Reader Interactions


  1. Buzz Rooney says

    You are that good, BFF! And I will continue to tell you that every chance I get … And I expect you to do the same for me. Thank you for being my friend.

    This is a great article and I think a call to all us “HR-lebrities” to check our ego and do a better job to support each other. Sharing information, allowing each other the chance to guest write/speak, etc is so critical. We are not in competition — we are all on a mission to make the world of work and our profession better as a whole.

    Thank you to Jessica and Blogging4jobs for being a place where new voices are supported, encouraged and celebrated!

  2. Ivy says

    Excellent post Chris! Luck or business leadership skills? Luck…no! I do believe that some folks have a “gift” in terms of leadership skills. Leadership skills can be taught, but not everyone has the “gift.” Leaders like Steve Jobs and Oprah…they had/have the “gift”. That’s why they were so successful and took their organizations to the top…I don’t think it was luck.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Chris!

  3. gnpjazz says

    Chris your posts are always current, timely and on the money! Luck vs. Skills was a hot topic on The View just the other day. As Whooipie stated: “Luck can open the door. Talent allows you to stay in the room!” Great post Chris.

  4. Donna @ EdibleCreations says

    In order to be proactive and believe in yourself, so that you can take all those necessary risks there are to be taken, I think that you should think “I am that good” but act in “Am I that good?” way.

  5. Jessica Miller-Merrell says


    Thank you so much for guest posting. I enjoyed reading the post very much. I like how you intertwine Whitney Houston and sports analogies into your post. Reminds me of Steve Boese and how he writes.

    You are welcome to post again any time.


  6. Melissa says

    Chris, I’m late to the table here but wanted to congratulate you on this awesome post. Very timely message. You are a great example of someone who is doing awesome but hasn’t forgotten to always reach out and support the community. I know that because you have done that for me and many others. Thank You!


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