How to Be “Covered in Luck”

Lessons from the late, great Michael Gambon

Niklas Göke


Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Photo by Murray Close via IMDb

A few days after I had updated an article, I saw a surge of traffic to it. “Ha!” I thought. “Maybe changing the title worked wonders after all.”

The next week, a friend messaged me about that very article. “Dude, that list of Dumbledore quotes sure was timely!” In an instant, it dawned on me, and a quick Google search confirmed: Michael Gambon, the actor who had played Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter, had died.

Though not having grown as old as his magical counterpart, who lived beyond 100, Gambon reached the ripe age of 82. Still, his death means we’ve lost a wonderful human. It also means my cosmetic changes to a piece of writing did not work miracles. They simply happened two days before an organic rise in people searching for the topic.

In 1988, some 35 years ago, Gambon was interviewed backstage while rehearsing for a theater play. “I think I’ve always felt lucky — to be working at all, you know. My first job was at the Old Vic with Sir Laurence, which was, to me, like a dream. And it’s been good ever since. I’ve always felt covered in luck.”

Covered in luck. Perhaps, that’s what I was when an extra 15,000 people came to read my article. Not skilled or smart. Just due for a bit of luck.

If Gambon felt lucky long before the role of his life, how must he have felt after? Unlike the many crooks and villains he otherwise so often portrayed, playing Dumbledore would secure him a spot in the hearts of muggles and wizards around the world — and that, too, just fell into his lap.

After fellow acting legend Richard Harris died two films into the series, Gambon’s phone rang, and he jumped on the opportunity — famously without having read any of the books. “I have been in five Harry Potter films and never read a Harry Potter book,” he once admitted. “If you are an actor, all you have is the script you are given. If you read the book, you might get disappointed about what’s been left out.”

Sometimes, it’s better not to know. Was that luck? Genius? A deserved break after years of toiling away? Who knows? Just enjoy it! Give thanks, and savor. Keep reading the script you’ve been given, doing the work you’ve been called to do, and don’t…



Niklas Göke

I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. Read my daily blog here: