Want More Luck? Count Each Small Win

Getting lucky involves opening your eyes to every small win you have. Every year at our business planning meetings, we come up with ideas for new features for our email marketing service that would take a very large amount of engineering time to build. Some of these are feature requests from customers, others are things we think would be pretty cool. What sometimes gets overlooked is what you might call the “small win.”  These are the little projects, the ones that took just a few days or weeks to do but left a tremendous imprint.

The thing with a small win is that people can forget about it. Yet tracking small wins can make you happier and more productive. When I look back at my last 12 months, I sometimes have trouble remembering each small win. They might have seemed insignificant at the time.  And often, they do not end up on my company’s action list of top priority projects – those that do tend to be our long-term projects.many small wins equal a big win

Every small win has an impact. Prof. Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School writes “Big breakthroughs at work are really rare. But small wins are something people can experience pretty regularly.” She found that 28 percent of small events of all kinds had a major impact on inner work life.

The opportunity to recognize small wins lies all around us. A recent small win my team had was to make some seemingly minor changes to our pin pad security feature. This took less than a week to do and resulted in a much stronger trial-to-paid conversion rate.  All of the other features we were working on, all of the marketing we were doing and all of the customer support we were providing was wonderful, but this little tweak that took so little time was a home run.

Acknowledging that small win was also important. It became a catalyst for other things that followed, helping us to create more of our own good luck. Once we saw the impact that this quick project had, it got my team looking at the other seemingly small projects on our list. I know not all of these tasks will have a major impact, but each “win” is motivational.

Our pin pad task was on our project list for a long time. It just didn’t bubble up to the top of our priority list for a variety of reasons. Once we implemented it, it was like a bolt of lightning hit us – why didn’t we do this quick and easy task earlier? Was it worth breaking open a bottle of Dom Perignon? No. But if you can count a dozen small wins in a year, you’ve got a lot to feel lucky about.

A Personal Policy That Creates Good Luck

I know you’ve had this experience: you talk to someone at customer service about an issue you are having and they are not being helpful. Then, they drop the bomb: “That’s just our policy.” Just your luck.

Those words probably elevated your blood pressure. Unless you were being unreasonable with your request, this unwillingness to help the hand that feeds them will eventually lead the way to fewer customers.  It’s the corporate way of saying that they really don’t care about your issues and that profits (i.e., the company’s issues) come first. The company is not creating good will, which leads to good luck.

Your Personal Policy

Companies aren’t the only ones with policies that shun people. Individuals can have a personal policy that can be a turn-off, too. These policies don’t have to be written. They are conveyed through our actions.

People will interpret our behavior as a personal policy. If we shut out others, it can have a negative effect on our own good luck. Examples of personal policies you might have, but might not be aware of:

  • I wait until someone else says hello first
  • I don’t look people in the eyes when speaking to them.
  • I comment on difficult discussions by email or online, preferring to avoid face-to-face conversations when possible.
  • When I attend business networking events, I find someone I know and hang out with them instead of meeting new people.
  • When my colleagues go out for lunch, I don’t offer to drive.

These seemingly innocuous behaviors send a strong signal to others about you. Those who don’t know you typically won’t understand the nuances of your personality during  your first interaction. Introverts might have a bigger hump to overcome than extroverts when it comes to engaging people. Make sure you are sending the right message.

How you come across matters. Your body language and actions convey your personal policy. Just be sure it adds to your good luck and doesn’t take from it.