Make your own luck, with the shamrock

Traditionally on St Patrick’s Day, the shamrock with its three leaves is used as a metaphor to represent the Christian trinity… NOT to be confused with the elusive four-leaf clover which represents good luck!  How can the shamrock inspire us on the road to recovery?

Given that we are known for having “the Luck of the Irish”, the three leaves of the shamrock could represent three qualities that I believe uniquely characterise most Irish people – we can build on these and make our own luck.

  • We are known for our sociability – we love having “the craic” (translation: fun. Pronounced “crack”) The craic is not an illegal substance, but equally can cause rapid heartbeat, loss of inhibitions, spontaneous dancing and  romantic entanglements! We were once famous for our thousand welcomes, which seemed to wane somewhat during the boom, but now we seem to be reclaiming that status. Being a small island nation, formal and informal networking is crucial to success in career and business; whether over a pint of plain (beer/stout) or a cappuccino. Most Irish people genuinely want to connect with others, have a laugh where possible whether at work or play, and help each other out. Those who are unemployed or underemployed are finding fulfilment through doing new things to help others, which in turn is creating new opportunities for them to develop their skills, meet new contacts and make progress. How can you connect more, help others out? How can you use the genuine goodwill and support of your network and community to help you with your goals?
  • We are renowned for resourcefulness & creativity – we have a seemingly disproportionate amount of talent represented on the world stage for such a small population – whether in literature, music, comedy, art, innovation. In my work as a career & business coach, many clients say that they are not creative, but when they think back, they often recognise ways in which they enjoyed creating something, perhaps as a child or young adult. In previous generations when times got tough, Irish people had to be creative and resourceful to survive and solve problems– this is something that is deep in our psyche. How can you be more creative with what you do? What new ideas & sources of inspiration can you find? How can you get better results by working differently or making changes to what you or your organisation does?
  • We have a highly skilled & educated population – historically our island was famed as the Land of Saints & Scholars. None of us can claim to be saints, but in spite of challenges in our education system, we have a strong tradition of lifelong learning and continuous development, and our system is still one of the best in the world (48% of people with 3rd level education, compared to 38% OECD average). The presence in Ireland of many world leading multinationals in the technology, medical and pharmaceutical sectors is testament to our skilled & educated workforce. So if you are to develop your skills and knowledge in business, how can you learn more? Through networking, events, formal education? How will you learn more about yourself and what motivates you or gets in your way?

If there is one negative characteristic that we Irish tend to share, it is that we often undersell ourselves, are reluctant to reflect on our successes in case we get “above ourselves” … that little voice that many of us have in our head that says “who does s/he think s/he is?”  If we can get past worrying what other people think of us that will remove many of the limits we impose on ourselves and our potential to succeed.

The three characteristics that we share are among the top five listed by IBEC as being in increasing demand by businesses and employers – so it will serve all of us well to focus on our strengths, rather than worry too much about what we don’t do so well. So perhaps this year on our national holiday, we can use the shamrock to remind us of our strengths.

If we can do less “drowning the shamrock”, (consuming copious amounts of alcohol), we will still have “mighty” (excellent) craic, and thus avoid being “as sick as a small hospital” (extremely ill). If we can keep a clear head, we can focus more clearly on our strengths, and make our own luck – as quoted by US President Barack Obama on his visit to Ireland last year – “Is Féidir Linn”… Yes, we can.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Liz Barron

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