Yep. It’s Friday the 13th, and it’s a good thing that I don’t believe in all that superstitious hooey. Otherwise, I might be afraid to write a few paragraphs today.

Black cats in my path. Walking under ladders. Broken mirrors. Umbrellas opened indoors (photographers are really screwed by this one by the way). Whatever. I just don’t believe in all that bunk. I believe that we make our own luck. That’s right. We make the choices that affect our situations, and it’s not dumb luck that we succeed or fail. No, our so-called “good and bad luck” is usually the culmination of a long list of experience, connection, and education (or lack thereof).

If you really look at your successes – really examine them, you will find that there was a long chain of events that played a role in that success. And conversely, if you really examine your failures, you’ll find that there was an equally long chain of events that played a role in that failure.  Just realize that you control that chain. You control what you learn and what you do. Soak in those experiences. Absorb everything you can. Don’t pin your hopes on luck, because it doesn’t work that way.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I’ve been pretty successful with the release of my Design House software for photographers & designers, and that has lead to holding photography workshops around the country. Have I been lucky in this endeavor? Well maybe, but more importantly, my experience, connections and education have been part of that success.

In high school, I was a band geek. In fact, I was the head band geek (drum major) for two years. In this role, I had to learn how to speak to a large group of people and give instruction. I also had to speak to and connect with people of every race, income bracket, and clique in school.

In college, I headed up a major presidential campaign on the campus of a large university.  We had over 300 volunteers, and I had to find a way to make my individual experience with each of those volunteers meaningful and personal.

During college, I worked as a corporate trainer for a major company.  I taught 30 new people every two weeks (5 hours of classroom time a day – 5 days a week), and I had to learn to teach adults at all age levels. I had to learn how to instantly connect with and personalize the material for people in their teens and people in their fifties – all in the same class setting.

Over the years, I’ve been a youth counselor, a substitute teacher, a call-center manager, and even an HR director, and not only did I take on these jobs, I poured my heart and soul into learning how to be the best I could at each of them. I didn’t want to just do the jobs I performed. I wanted to be really good at the jobs I performed – and that took hard work and effort.

So now, when I’m conducting a workshop, whether it be in Portland or Detroit, I draw on all of that experience and education of my past to really connect with the people in my classes. It’s not dumb luck that my workshops have been successful. It’s because I put the real work in beforehand, and I’m looking toward Saskatoon and Toronto (and maybe San Antonio of Dallas) for workshops in 2010.

Put in the work. Learn as much as you can. Get the results you want, and don’t rely on “luck” or get held back by silly superstition.