Luck and The New CIO - or what I did on my vacation

Old Faithful Erupting + Rainbow
Old Faithful erupting with a rainbow by Eric D. Brown

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

My wife and I took a vacation last week.  We spent 7 days in two of the most exciting and beautiful places on earth – Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons National Park.

We had a great time in both parks and took lots of photos.  Most were good. Some were excellent. Some were not-so-good (Feel free to jump over and view some of the better photos on my flickr account).

The scenery and wildlife in both parks are amazing and it seems that we chose the right time of year to go…lots of color in the trees and quite a bit of wildlife movement.  Tracie and I hit just about every road, turnout and gravel path we could find in both parks and saw tons of wildlife.

I learned a lot from this trip.  I learned that I have a great camera (a Canon 5D) that’s perfect for landscapes but not as perfect for wildlife.  I have two great lenses (Canon EF 24-105L and Canon EF 400 f/5.6 L) that were great for their respective photos  (the former for landscape & the latter for wildlife).  I also learned that when shooting landscapes and wildlife, it pays to have 2 camera bodies to keep from changing the lenses out constantly.

I also learned that regardless of how much preparation and hard work you put into something, a little bit of luck is helpful too.

What’s your point Eric?

If you were wondering if the above was just filler material to pad this post, you’d be wrong.   I’m actually leading to a point here…I hope 😉

My point is this:

You can have the best equipment, the best skills, the best plan and and even the best strategy…but sometimes (often many times) luck plays a large role in the outcome.

We spent months planning our trip.  We read tons of books and blogs and visited many discussion forums about photography and the parks.  We planned out where we’d stay based on what part of the park(s) we wanted to see.  We made sure we had the right equipment.

Then…we got to the parks.  Most of our plans worked out well.  We got to see just about everything we wanted to see.  We saw lots of beautiful scenery and tons of wildlife.  But..we didn’t get to see everything.  We missed the bears.  We missed the big-horn sheep.  We missed seeing a bull moose up close.

Didn’t we plan well? Sure. Were we prepared? We think so.

We were in the ‘right’ spots at the ‘right’ time with the ‘right’ equipment.  But yet the outcome was less than favorable. What happened?  Well…we missed out on that thing called luck a few times.

Luck and The New CIO

Luck is important to any organization.  You can hire the right people. You can have the right strategy.  You can have the perfect plan and the cutting-edge technology.  You can be as prepared as you can be….but without a little luck on your side, you may fall short of your goal.

We’ve all heard that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.  I would agree with that….if you have the ability to expend 90% of your effort on one task.  These days we don’t.

Tracie and I had a week to spend in two large parks so we had to rely on some luck to help us out….and for the most part, we were quite lucky.  We got to see a baby Moose, a Pine Marten and a juvenile Eagle…what else could we ask for? 🙂

What can The New CIO do?

Do everything in your power to be ready when the luck comes around.  Hire the best people.  Have the right strategy and the right plan.  Have the best technology strategy.

Lastly….do everything you can to make your own luck.

Did Tracie and I give up when the animals didn’t come to the exact spot we expected? Nope…we set out to find them.   We still didn’t see the bears or bighorn sheep but we did manage to track down a female moose who came within 30 yards of us and of course that cute baby moose.

Oh yea…that Pine Marten i mentioned above?  Pure luck.  We were eating lunch at a picnic table and he popped his head out of the rocks.  We were prepared with a our cameras ‘just in case’ and got some great shots of an animal that few get to see.

As a CIO, you’ve got to do the ‘right‘ things and the ‘hard‘ things. Do what you can to be prepared and then look for those little signs that luck is on your side.  When you see the lucky signs, you should move quickly to take advantage of the luck because luck doesn’t always last.

Join me next week for another article in The New CIO series.

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