A large number of years ago a director of a change programme commented that she would “rather have a lucky project manager than a good one any day”. To date I still can’t make up my mind whether this was an insult or complement, but it did leave me thinking about the nature of luck. I came to the conclusion that actually we could all use some luck, and also that you can do something about creating your own
Luck is an interesting concept, and one which seems to arouse strong feeling when I have talked about it with groups of business people. A number of times people have become quite agitated at the idea that I might suggest that ‘luck’ could play a part in their hard working life and business. This is understandable if you think of luck in terms of random action over which you have no sway. But I think of luck as being:
the propensity for things to work out in a way that you can regard as beneficial to you.
There was a recent Derren Brown programme on luck in his The Experiments series (here for a link). In this he created a lucky statue and also sought to explain why some people were luckier than others. What came out of the programme was two interesting points; that luck, in terms of the statue or a lucky charm, is about your own state of mind and belief, which in turn leads you to behave in a certain way, and also that lucky people seek out and make the most of opportunities.
This was in line with the finding of a book call The Luck Factor, by Richard Wiseman in which he researched what made people who regarded themselves as lucky, lucky. His conclusion was that there were four principles that lucky people applies
1. Maximise your chance opportunities (the major message from Derren Brown)
2. Listen to your lucky hunches
3. Expect good fortune
4. Turn your bad luck into good.
Again a combination of attitudes and behaviour.
All of these elements can be developed in individuals, so you should be able to increase your good fortune. So how can you increase your luck. Here are some area which you may want to consider, in terms of both attitude and behaviour. Try to be more of the following :
Fully engaged in life: This is about trying new things, making the most of opportunities, aiming to say yes to things rather than no, as the default option.
Positive in outlook: expect things to go well, and when they don’t brush yourself off and carry on, concentrate on success, think long term and be persistent, and regard bad luck as a learning opportunity. Interestingly this is an area in which lucky charms can have a play as they help you get into the right state of mind.
Outcome oriented: know your values, vision and goals, have passions, know what you want as it helps you spot opportunities to get it, let others know – a lot of your luck is about other people.
Active in pursuing outcomes: go for it or carpe diem – seize the day. Even if you do not achieve all you want, pursuing it will take you forward to somewhere. If you expect nothing and so do nothing you are more likely to get nothing. Be persistent, like Edison’s light bulbs each failure taking him closer to success, providing you learn from it – back to finding something ‘good’ in ‘bad’ luck. Monitor your progress and adjust your path.
Alert to opportunities: research shows that ‘lucky’ people are more observant and see more opportunities. Physically they even look around more, expecting to find something helpful, or using what they do find. You also need to be prepared to act when opportunities arise.
A respecter of intuition: there is usually a good reason for your ‘gut feel’. It is worth checking it out. Also if you intuitively feel a certain way about something, then it probably fits your perception of the world and you are more likely to make it work for you. It is worth developing your intuition and increasing your sensitivity to environment and circumstances. Try being more mindful.
People oriented: we all need people; to help us, support us, put things in perspective give us new ideas etc etc. Lucky people are gregarious; you need to learn to be, if you are not. Find your own way, we do not all have to be the life and soul of the party.
None of this is a guarantee of a charmed life. But it is likely to make things work out more often for you, to hedge your bets in life. Pick out an area at a time and develop the habits that go with it. A lucky life is a practice and a way of living.
Wiseman, R. The Luck Factor 2003.
Derren Brown. The Experiments, The Secret of Luck 2011.