This question has been ringing in my ears. See, it all started with a tweet about Jeff Bezos’s favorite interview question. Yes, the guy from Amazon. His question was straightforward enough: do you consider yourself lucky?
Of course, the context on Twitter was an argument both for and against the philosophical interview question.
Those in favor believe your answer is a reflection of your life view. Optimist or pessimist sounds far less intriguing than lucky. The tweets made it seem so simple, arguing positive people create better outcomes and are more effective problem-solvers. “Everyone has terrible things that happen,” they say, “but a lot has to go right to end up successful.”
It sounds to me like they’re taking an optimistic approach to interviews if they think they’ll get all that from one question.
The argument against was the same one we’ve heard a million times about every other hypothetical and personal interview question: it introduces bias and is not predictive of success. Of course, beyond the hypothetical, I started to ponder my answer. If I were sitting across the table from someone like Jeff Bezos, what would I say? I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent the last week trying to come up with an answer.
I think about the people I call lucky. You know the type. They win money on the slots in Vegas, find themselves in magical moments to meet their idols, and narrowly avoid bad situations. If that’s the definition, I most certainly am not lucky. I don’t narrowly miss the injury, I crash. My nickname as a kid was Boo Boo. I earned it by dropping a 25-pound weight on my foot, breaking every toe in one quick clatter. I’ve never won more than $5 on a lottery ticket. When I travel, it feels like anything that can go wrong, will. Unfortunately, I’m usually not wrong.
Then I remember where I come from. My eyes fill with tears almost instantly. Of all the stories I’ve ever told myself about who I am or what I could be, I promise you “CEO of my company” was never a plotline. I always believed I wasn’t enough. I operated on fear and created rules that helped me survive the aftermath of tragic moments that no one would ever describe as “lucky.” I told myself I had to work ten times smarter and harder to get half as far as everyone else. I couldn’t rely on luck. I didn’t have any.
Thinking about the question again, I have to wonder if “luck” was what he was even trying to measure. Not optimism, either. He was asking people if they believe in their purpose. If you think you deserve the good things that happen to you. He wanted to know that you see your self-worth.
So when I ask if you’re lucky, I hope you’re one of the lucky people who has learned that.
Learned that no one is special or more deserving of luck. We all deserve to feel worthy of reaching the dreams we want so badly. You are worthy of the unbelievable opportunities that show up on your doorstep. You are worthy of the kind words and love people give with big open hearts. You are worthy of your wildest dreams.
So when I start thinking about it that way, I am lucky. I know today that I’m just as worthy as anyone else of my dreams and success. That no part of my history disqualifies me from living my dream. I hope you’re lucky enough to have figured that out, too.
Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.