Make Your Own Luck

I don’t consider myself to be “lucky.” I’ve never won the lottery, well, maybe $4 at a time. And, while I know I’m “fortunate” in many ways, “lucky” isn’t how I’d describe it. I work hard, and have always done so, through school and in business. This week has been a week to reflect on the loss of my friend, Dr. Frances Kinne, about whom Melissa and I have written previously (http://magnusinsights.com/2015/11/dr-frances-bartlett-kinne/). At the time of her death, Fran was almost 103 years old. I had the honor and pleasure to know her for over 40 years. Some people have said I was “lucky” to meet her. I can’t disagree. She has had a tremendous impact on my life. Her encouragement and support will never be forgotten. I was lucky to have met her in many ways, but as I thought about it, I realized part of that luck was something I made. Luck, as in the sense that this connection with her just “happened,” is not completely accurate. When I started college at Jacksonville University, Fran had recently assumed the role of “Acting President.” The wife of our family’s pastor was a friend of Fran’s and she told me to introduce myself to President Kinne and tell her we had a mutual acquaintance. I met Fran on class registration day as she was making the rounds of the incoming freshmen. I, nervously, made it a point to make the introduction I was told to make. I stopped the university president in her tracks! We chatted, she asked about my plan for classes, then she did me the first of many favors she did for me by signing me into a closed photography 101 class. After that day, I saw her on campus and, on a couple of occasions, had the opportunity to take photos of her, including one on her inauguration day when I saw her and a dear friend of hers, a JU Board member, embracing after the ceremony. I doubt they had any idea I took their photo. I developed my film in the JU darkroom and made a print for her. I dropped it off at the President’s Office a few days later. My connection to Fran grew after that. I’ve later realized that, while I was lucky to meet her, I initiated that meeting. I made an effort to speak to her, to give her a small gift, and to keep in communication with her. I did not have any idea it would lead to working in her office during my junior and senior years, nor did I know I would meet many of Fran’s celebrity friends whom she invited to J.U. I had no idea how those small acts of initiation would pay off in the long connection I had with her. It occurs to me that taking initiative is critical to “making luck.” If you don’t seize an opportunity when it presents itself, luck is unlikely to find you. (I’m still waiting on the lottery.)

David is one of the smartest people I know.  That’s one reason I like him!  Even when David was a teenager and recent high school graduate, he had the intelligence, not to mention foresight, to introduce himself to the President of Jacksonville University on, as it turns out, his first day on campus.  Call it luck, or good fortune, or serendipity, David had the fantastic opportunity few people have to meet, then get to know, then become friends with, one of the most amazing people in the entire world.  Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne was one of only two self actualized people I have had the great privilege to meet.  I daresay that most people will never meet, not to mention befriend, anyone who comes close to Fran on any dimension by which one measures other people’s self worth.  If David had chosen to attend a university other than Jacksonville University, he would be a different person than the person he is today.  Furthermore, if David had attended Jacksonville University but never introduced himself to its president, he would be a different person than he is today.  Many people, perhaps including me, would have been too intimidated, shy, or otherwise reluctant to approach the most powerful person on their university’s campus.  Not David.  He realized that he had a perfect opportunity to meet Fran (who, of course, he respectfully called “Dr. Kinne” until she asked him to call her “Fran”) on his first day on campus.  David also knew that he had a great ice breaker, in the form of having a friend in common with Fran.  Still, it must have taken a lot of courage to walk up to her and strike up a conversation.  David introduced me to Fran soon after we started dating, in 1986.  I had earned my Ph. D. only 2 years before that and, as a young woman in the early stage of her career, I can tell you that I was nervous about meeting such a famous and remarkable person.  My fears were soon allayed, however, because Fran had the amazing ability to make everyone she met immediately comfortable.  I am lucky, or as David would say, fortunate, to have been friends with Fran from our first meeting in 1986 until she passed away on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020.  She was one of David’s and my strongest supporters, of anything we did.  In fact, Fran never missed reading these posts, even though her calendar was packed solid with appointments until shortly before her death.  I agree with David that luck can be what you make of it, and I am thrilled David met, then introduced me, to one of the finest people who has ever lived.  Here’s to you, Fran!  And, as your dear friend Bob Hope said, “Thanks for the memories”!

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