Life Lessons in Leadership for Ed Tech Vendors: Luck

This is the fifth in a series of five monthly articles providing tips for ed tech vendors to use when working with school clients to implement innovative solutions for teaching and learning. Each month we pull a leadership lesson from Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby, a book I co-authored with Michael Barrett in 2016. The goal of this book is to provide leaders of all ages – “Leaders Ages 8 to 88” – with memorable strategies for leading people and processes, especially when it comes to navigating change.

In the previous four articles we addressed the critical leadership skills of listening, learning, loving (your program, product, process and/or people) and leveraging the talents of others. This month’s reflections are on the topic of luck, which is the focus of Chapter 5 in Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines luck as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity” and “the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual”.

There may be times in both our professional and personal lives when we observe others’ success and we think, “My, wasn’t he lucky!”. Quite honestly, other than winning the lottery or some other game of chance, true luck plays a very small role – if any – when it comes to success, especially when the goal is leading change and innovation.

Ed tech vendors and their school partners create their own luck or success when they work together in a highly collaborative environment to assure the success of all the students they serve. The other four “L’s” covered in our previous posts: Listen, Learn, Love, Leverage, are the essentials for creating one’s own luck when leading innovation in school systems.

If indeed luck does seem to be knocking at our door, it is critical that we are prepared to leverage any “lucky” happenstance when it occurs. “Do your homework” applies not to just students in school. Constant and thorough prep work is the secret sauce to maximizing opportunities. If opportunities present themselves, but we are not prepared to capitalize on them, then those opportunities will slip away. 

The Merriam-Webster definition of luck refers to “a force” that can bring good or adversity. When it comes to leading innovation, that force is often one’s self. Innovative leaders must be prepared to not only get the most from good efforts and results, but they must also know how to learn from adversity. Innovation by its very nature involves risk. There are times when - even with the best intentions, planning and implementation - new approaches fail to live up to their potential. It is at those times that vendors and their school partners must come together and treat an undesirable result as an opportunity to grow and learn together.


As this series ends, I would like to personally thank you, ed tech vendors and educators, for your leadership as innovators and partners in assuring that we provide all students with a quality education that truly prepares each one for success in their future roles as citizens, workers, parents & leaders.

Start at the beginning of Ann's Life Lessons in Leadership for Ed Tech Vendors.


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About the Author

Ann McMullan is an education consultant based in Los Angeles, California who works throughout the United States and internationally as a public speaker, writer, and consultant focused on leadership, professional development and educational technology. Ann is a frequent speaker at state and national education conferences. She serves as Project Director for CoSN’s Empowered Superintendents Program

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