Ok, so the chances are you haven’t won the lottery jackpot (you’ve only a 1:14 million chance of so doing) but why is it that some folk seem to have all the luck? This article explores the world of luck and gives some pointers to how to be ‘lucky’.
Listen to many successful entrepreneurs from Branson to
Zukerman via Digby Jones and Sir Ronald Cohen and they’ll all credit this
illusive power yet you’ll not find a ‘luck’ module on any MBA syllabus.
The trouble with luck is that it is a hard
thing to pin down. When you have made your first million it is only with the
benefit of 20:20 hind sight that with so many improbable personal, career,
business, trends, and market forces at play it is difficult to define how you
got to the right place at the right time except with a large dollop of luck.
Add the fact that there are so many people out there vying for the same thing it
is no wonder that physicists and philosophers coin the term ‘self-sampling
assumptions’ to explain it.
Others may use the term to disguise their own achievements,
preferring some self-effacing nod to some mysterious external force (luck) than
to speak of their own blood, sweat and tears. Jealously from others not wishing
to acknowledge either their own shortcomings or other’s intellect and tenacity
would just proffer a ‘Life of Brian’ / Pythonesque “you lucky bastard”…
But if some people seem to have lucky breaks so consistently are they somehow tapping into a natural force that’s accessible to all of us? Well, it seems they are and it is more embedded in practical building blocks than ‘fire and brimstone’.
What is luck anyway? So, let’s define what we mean by luck. Some have their answer in superstition: anything from four-leaf clovers to Tony Blair’s lucky brogues, kissing goalposts (England in the 2014 Brazilian World Cup anyone?) to Andy Murray’s favourite rituals at Wimbledon? Yeah, right! Others have it as a consequence of birth: Bill Gates credits his parents and having met Microsoft partner Paul Allen as a child. Richard Wiseman (author of ‘The Luck Factor’ – Century, 2003) recognises one-off situations but confines his definition to successive cases of good fortune; such reoccurrences indicating the individual is influencing things.
Luck is – by this definition at least – something we create ourselves.
Dissenters in the business community abound. Anthony Buck, co-founder of Ren Skincare, suggests it is just sticking to something that others leave well-alone. So, you attend an exhibition and happen to bump into a great new contact – but is that not just ‘effort’?
Whether luck is based in pragmatism or not we can end up with just a semantic debate. Whatever the phenomenon, luck or not, what seems to matter is that destiny, in work and in life, clearly lies with the individual. Woody Allen described luck as 70% just turning up: being in the right place at the right time. It follows that the more you get out there into new situations, the more likely it is that you will be in a place turns out to be right that is similarly fruitful. Luck is largely down to getting out there in the first place to create, spot and exploit opportunities.
So, luck seems to come from a combination of chance and perception: how you view these chance events will determine your luck. Let’s not simply just rehash the ‘power of positive thinking’ mantra but examine the underlying precepts. Optimists hold a glass ‘half full’ expecting good things: they feel better, perform better, and are luckier as a result – they just expose themselves to more situations.
Luck, then, is all about opportunities: spotting them when they arise, creating them when they don’t, and most of all getting into a position and state of mind to seize them. Try our ten point plan to bring you some good luck (for a change!)
Oh, and good luck…
1. Start with the end in mind – what are your goals? You’ll recognise the opportunities that will help you to realise your ambitions if you are clear on your aims in the first place
2.Be flexible – attain a relaxed and open minded approach to thoughts and actions. Break your habits, change your route to work, lunch with different people, or try a different place. Look to new horizons and how you view them.
3. Take charge – of your emotions. Fortune doesn’t favour a victim. Chose a positive view of situations.
4. Take a risk – within reason. While a ship is safe in a harbour, that’s not what they were built for. As you get older you’ll only regret what you didn’t do.
5. Expect good fortune – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you glass is half full it is more likely to have something top it up.
6. Trust gut-feel – your intuition. Following from above, our inner voice knows best: back your hunches and persevere.
7. Turn things round – turn bad luck into good. Luck is about how you view the chance events in your life. If life throws a curved ball – it will – suspend your immediate reaction. Look for the positives and see where that leads you.
8.Network – or get training to do it better. Don’t say, ‘what can my network do for me but ask what can I do for my network’? People will pick up on your genuine interest.
9.Eyes open wide – for opportunities. While you may not find immediately what you seek are there other opportunities unfolding under your nose?
10. Say ‘yes’ more – or ‘why not’? Fortune favours the brave so go for it; you’ll learn from the experience and that is all positive.
DAW Ltd (formerly Duncan Alexander & Wilmshurst) firstname.lastname@example.org