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Op/ed: I'm told I'm lucky - and the harder I work, the luckier I am

March 6, 2015

As published in the Pacific Coast Business Times (March 6, 2015).

By Lisa Spiwak

On March 17 we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, which is also a celebration of luck of sorts. We will search out four leaf clovers and little green leprechauns to bring us good luck and hopefully to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

As lovely as these celebrations and traditions are, I am not a believer in luck. I am a believer in hard work.

My business partner and I have been practicing law together for 27 years. We are constantly being told how fortunate we are to have such a wonderful partnership and such a great business. Although we do feel fortunate, it is not because we picked lucky numbers and found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We feel fortunate because we both share the same work ethic. We both have spent our entire professional careers working hard and striving to always do the best we can and then some.

There have been several difficult years where business has dropped off, cases went astray, employees gave us grief, and money was tight. However, rather than looking for lucky objects to rub, we instead rolled up our sleeves and continued to work and work and work to get through the tough times. We simply refused to quit. And through it all, we stuck together and have always had each others' back. We have treated our partnership with great respect and have continued to put each other's needs ahead of our own. Business partnerships are extremely difficult. They have all of the emotional stress and financial pressures of a marriage, without the fun romantic stuff.

In fact, I believe that it is the solidity of our partnership that has helped us maintain many of our long-term clients. Our clients like the stability of our law firm and knowing that we are always on the same page without any infighting. Similarly, our long-term employees will tell you the same. They know that the "captains" steering their ship are paying attention and watching for icebergs. Their captains are not off drinking with crew members and putting the ship on cruise control. So, the harder my partner and I work at our profession and at our partnership, the luckier we are, and the luckier our clients and employees are.

Recently, I befriended a woman I met at my children's school. She is tall and slim and quite lovely. When I first met her, I thought how lucky she was to have such good genes that she could remain so slim after having kids and have no excess body fat. However, after I got to know her, I learned that she jogs each day, goes to the gym several times a week and consistently restricts her caloric intake. She is not lucky. She works her butt off (literally) to maintain her figure.

I have three children who I am constantly being told are very polite and well-behaved, and how lucky I am to have such great kids. Nonsense! My husband and I work tirelessly to instill "please and thank you" into their vocabulary and to make sure they hold the door open for people, look people in the eye when they speak to them and use the correct utensils at the dinner table. There is no luck involved. There have simply been hours and hours of work put into them.

Clearly, there is "bad" luck. You can be on a plane that goes down, you can get a life-threatening illness, or you can get struck by a car while crossing the street. However, these are happenstances that remind you of our mortality and the randomness of life. No amount of hard work or careful planning can avoid these situations.

However, I have no doubt that if you want to be a lucky person and have good things happen to you, just work harder and watch the magic unfold!

Good luck!

Lisa Spiwak is a partner in the firm Spiwak & Iezza in Thousand Oaks. Reach her at LSpiwak@sai-legal.com.

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