Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Four-Leaf Clover Principle

This morning, I went for a jog in the forest preserve park down the street from our home. Winding down the run, I cut through a section of the park and noticed to my surprise that, after the recent rain, clover covered the ground.

I have quite a few childhood memories of clover. As a grade-school age kid, I had a daily paper route and delivered newspapers from house to house. I used to watch the ground when I walked to see if I could find any four-leafed clover. If I found any, my mother pronounced it a lucky omen. She preserved the clover by pressing it in a heavy book and keeping it safe in a clear wrapper. I recall opening our family picture album and having a few pressed clover fall out. Maybe my mom thought that would bring luck to the family.

Those memories returned to me during the jog and I began to scour the ground for a four-leaf clover. I thought that would be a nice reconnection to my past; maybe it would be lucky, too.

There were no four-leafed clover in the first patch of ground that I examined. Nor the second, third, or fourth. Disappointed, I raised my head and began walking home.

On the way, the thought soon struck me that you can never really look for four-leafed clover. I never actually found one by looking for it; rather, I would be walking along and one would suddenly jump out at me. It was being primed to see one, but not *trying* to see it, that would lead to the discovery.

Most things are like that in life, I realized. You can't *make* things happen. You can't make people like you, you can't make stocks move your way, and you can't make yourself successful. When you press to make things happen, you're no longer properly primed to see opportunity when it presents itself. You're so busy looking for the clover that you miss the patch that lies several steps ahead.

How many times do we press to get in a trade, when it's just sitting back, seeing the trend, and finding a good place to participate that makes us the real money? How often do we try to make a public speech turn out perfectly or try to get to sleep, only to have the trying interfere with what comes naturally?

What makes the four-leafed clover lucky is that it presents itself to us; we cannot make it appear. It's true of all life's four-leafed clover: they appear when we're ready to see them.

I smiled as I made my way home. I realized that there were a couple of areas in my life where I had been pressing to make things happen. What I needed to do was stand back, do the right things, and position for the best possible outcomes. All we can do in life is walk through lots of clover fields and keep our eyes open. Eventually the four-leafed opportunities will present themselves.

As I walked just beyond the picnic tables, a few steps before I reached Greene Rd. to return home, a large four-leafed clover stood out on the ground. I held back a tear as I carefully plucked it and brought it home. I pressed it in a book and put it in an airtight clear wrap.

Somewhere, Mom was smiling. And I was feeling lucky: my blog topic for the morning was set.