Boise State on Business

Gundars Kaupins: Winning attitude can make Friday the 13th lucky

GUNDARS KAUPINS, professor of management, College of Business and Economics at Boise State UniversityDecember 10, 2013 

Gundars Kaupins

There are reports that wedding-related businesses saw a drop in sales because there are two months when Friday falls on the 13th in the last half of 2013 — in September and December. Not as many people want to get married on those dates. Thirteen is the magically unlucky number that few want to be associated with, unless you are having a baker’s dozen.

Thirteen, in some ways, represents a mindset in business of being unlucky before you can do anything about it. “Well, if I do Plan A it will fail because some random storm will hit.” “There is no way Bill will accept my offer. I’m just unlucky in life.” “If I start that job, odds are that the company will lay me off just like the other companies did.”

The first step to break the unlucky 13 attitude is to expect to win in your everyday life. If you feel that you are one of a zillion job candidates going into a job interview, you might not make much of an effort to impress the interviewer. But if you feel that you are the one for the job, the confidence will show and you will make a greater effort to prepare for that interview.

Disaster happens. You travel to your job interview, and there is some accident on the Interstate that delays you for 45 minutes. You miss the interview. Someone else gets the job. It’s not your fault. Move on from there. Don’t internalize it. There is a tendency to say, “I am unlucky, woe is me.” Keep going up to bat. Go for more jobs — or promotions, grants, pay raises or whatever you are aiming for. Baseball players don’t quit when they strike out. Based on batting averages, they will succeed in the future.

You might even learn from the loss. If there is a chance for some travel delays, perhaps it is best to get to the company you will be interviewing at much earlier than normal so at least you are there. If you did not get that promotion, what specific things were you told to improve? Next time you go up, you can say that you did what was expected.

Sometimes luck comes to those who actively listen to others. Be alert for opportunities. You never know if your hairdresser can give you that career tip of a lifetime, such as finding a new job or solving that personnel problem.

I have been lucky writing articles for the Statesman and other media based on inspiration from a wide variety of outlets. The inspiration for this article came from a 10-second “Today Show” comment about wedding-related businesses having a drop in sales because of the number 13. I heard it on Friday the 13th as I was walking out the door to go to work. I never know when inspirations for articles will occur.

Sometimes ideas come from books, newspaper articles or something my spouse said. Or maybe my dog sneezed, the chair in the next room happens to be green, ABBA is on the radio, or I added a tomato to my pasta for lunch.

Luck happens when you make it happen for you. Remember, the number 14 is just one away from any 13 you may encounter.

Do the one extra to get out of your unlucky 13 attitude.

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gkaupins@boisestate.edu

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