Jackie Hurd
Graphic Designer & Illustrator


Located in Southern Pines, NC, Jackie is an Illustrator and graphic designer. Subscribe to this blog to learn more about Jackie, her experiences in creativity and helpful tips for fellow creatives.

Black swans and luck

The red bill black swan in a wetland park, Malaysia

In the last year or two, I've found myself on a pretty good path career wise. I feel like I'm on my way to success. Was it all of my hard work or was it luck? Maybe both. In connecting the dots of past events I realize my life has been made up of a series of black swan events. Both good and bad, but it's those black swan events that got me to the here and now… the present where I find myself accomplishing the things I thought were impossible. 

So what are black swan events?  According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb "A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences" 

As said by Basecamp's Jason Fried "When you look back on events, it’s pretty incredible how things come together. Nothing happens independently. Everything is tied to something before it. Sometimes the links are more obvious than others, but it’s healthy to take a few moments to reflect on how many things – and people – had to come together in order for another thing to happen."

Believe it or not, these black swan events aren't just sheer luck, they aren't as random as we'd like to believe. Its just a matter of opening yourself up to them. And obviously, its the positive black swans -- the ones that attract unlikely bouts of extreme good fortune that we'd like to attract, not the contrary. To win the lotto one has to make a conscious effort to drive to the store, hand over the cash and obtain the tickets. Winning is definitely luck, but it would have NEVER happened if this person wouldn't have set themselves up for it. With that said, below are a few of the things that I believe will open the doors for the unexpected bouts of good fortune we'd all love to encounter. 

Follow your own style:

Stop worrying about what everyone else likes. I mean, yes take some of it into consideration, but for the most part be original.

Invest in what you love:

Slowly and consistently invest your time in what you enjoy doing. The important thing is a build up. Grow your hobby, build connections and surround yourself with like minded people. Have fun and take a few chances. Have an adventure. Along the way you will open yourself up to opportunities, perhaps one of these opportunities will be the chance to jump into the deep end and make a living out of your hobby. 

Be good to others:

Ever hear the saying "what goes around comes around"? How you interact with others can be the ultimate black swan generator, wether it be positive or negative. People love to name throw. Eventually someone is going to say a (hopefully good) thing or two about you to the right person at the right time and what is said may just lead to your big break. So be kind. 

Understand that you can't force success. Sometimes it is luck, but that luck has to be influenced. Think of the random (positive) black swans that got you to where you are today. How did you influence them?