I don’t personally remember this story, but I know my father’s version of it… and indeed, it does sound like me. It goes like this:

I was in my early 20s. I was in the car with my father, as he was driving home a co-worker of his. Apparently (and this does sounds like my dad), he was bragging about my budding journalism career, such as it was at that time. The co-worker then said, “Wow. Aren’t you a lucky girl?” and evidently, my reply was, “It’s not because of luck. It’s because of hard work.”

When my father related that story to me many years later, he also told me that he couldn’t have been more proud of me. That’s probably why he still could remember the tale, despite the fact that he was well into his 90s and more than 30 years had passed since it happened.

I might not remember saying it myself, but that doesn’t make it any less true: The success of a person’s business isn’t about luck. It’s about the hard work that person poured into it.

Sure, being in the right place at the right time never hurts. But it’s not luck that builds a business. It’s you: your hard work, your dedication, and your ability to persevere.

These are the true elements of entrepreneurial success — not fate, nor destiny, but instead, examining yourself, identifying your talents, honing your skills, learning what you need to know, and then, fearlessly getting out there and working hard to reach your goals.

There was another time, much more recent, when I was in a pole dancing class. (Yes, I know. You can stop laughing now.) I told a fellow student that I worked from home, and she exclaimed. “Wow, you’re so lucky!”

Privately, in my head, I thought, “What? It’s not luck.” No, my lifestyle and my at-home career most definitely didn’t happen by chance. I designed my life and my career so I could work at home. It was extremely deliberate. It was intentional. It was truly BY DESIGN.

A perfect example of what I’m talking about was the pole dancing class itself. Was the fact that we all went through it and, by the end of it, could all do something that we weren’t able to do when we started simply luck? Or was it because we all worked our butts off to achieve that? Clearly, “luck” had nothing to do with it.

But out loud to her, I simply answered, with a big smile and a nod, “Yes, I am!”

Perhaps what she really meant to say was that I’ve been blessed. Certainly, I have been. God has given me wonderful gifts. But without action, God’s gifts would have just sat there.

You can be handed a lot of fortunate opportunities, but unless you do something with them, it really doesn’t matter. Seizing those opportunities by taking action is a critical part of the equation. In my opinion, that how we openly receive God’s blessings and thank Him for those gifts — by acting upon them.

It all reminds me of an old joke. A man filled with deep faith in God is stranded on an island. A boat full of people stops by to help him. He waves them off. “God will help me!” he exclaims. Later, a helicopter flies over. “It’s OK! God is on his way!” he yells. After years go by, he dies on the island, having never been rescued. When he gets to heaven, he asks God, “Lord! Why didn’t you come to help me?” God answers, “Are you kidding? I sent you a boat AND a helicopter!”

Opportunity comes knocking every day. On our end, we need to recognize it and act upon it when it arrives. Without that realization and action, nothing happens.

As much as humanly possible, I’ve created my own life. In fact, to a large extent, we all have and we all do — we all sleep in the beds we make. Some have done it with full intent. For some, it’s been less intentional and more about inactivity, usually due to some form of fear. Be careful not to fall into that last category — it’s full of complacency, doubt, and regrets.

So the next time someone proclaims how “lucky” you are to have your own business (and perhaps how lucky you are to be able to work from home), remember that it has much less to do with luck… and much more to do with you.