The topic of luck is an interesting one.
You undoubtedly know people whose lives seem to go without a hitch and who always encounter a wealth of opportunities. They are never short of money and seem to get away with anything. It’s almost as if the universe is giving them a helping hand. They are born lucky, some would say.
You can interpret this expression in several ways. Looking purely at the person’s background, you could say that he or she was fortunate to be born into a prosperous family with loving parents, and therefore lucky with the circumstances.
But some folks take it a step further and believe that there must be another reason why this person gets lucky so often. Such a string of positive events, that can’t be a mere coincidence, right? What is their secret? Do they have a particular superstition that helps them? Or is there perhaps some other entity that tips the odds in their favor?
There are countless examples of people who have become wealthy thanks to luck. Think of the lottery winners, newly-weds who walked out with the jackpot while on their honeymoon in Las Vegas, or the Norwegian guy who bought 5,000 bitcoin in 2009 for $27. (which would make him a millionaire today)
But even when it’s not about money, some have more luck on their side. They get the job of their dreams, meet their idol on vacation, get a free upgrade to business class or meet “the one” in the fruit aisle of Walmart while clutching two cauliflowers.
That makes us wonder: what is luck? Is luck only about probabilities; a roll of the dice that determines whether something good or bad will happen to you? Or is it possible to create your own luck?
Four Types of Luck
Luck consists of all the positive events that come your way. We can distinguish four types of lucky:
Type I: Luck through Fate
Type II: Luck through Motion
Type III: Luck through Receptivity
Type IV: Luck through Attraction
Luck through Fate
This is the kind of luck that you have inherited by birth.
Before you came into the world, the cards for your starting point have already been shuffled. Who you will become is already partially recorded in your DNA and genes. To a some extent, this is determined by the combination of parents who brought you into the world, mixed in with some randomness. Think about biological aspects such as skin color, gender, height, and physique.
Vice versa, you can also speak of being born unlucky, if you were born with a physical abnormality. For instance, think of being one chromosome short and being born with Down’s Syndrome. Even though these usually seem to be the happiest children who go through life with a smile, I think it is fair to say that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to luck.
Your physical attributes will always play a role in society. Due to your skin color, you will be identified with a certain group and you will be treated differently all around. I think you can think of plenty of examples where this is the case.
But in addition to biological features, environmental factors also determine what opportunities you are given. Are you born into a wealthy family in Bel-Air? Or do you arrive into this world in Somalia as the child of a single mother with virtually no access to education?
All of these things are beyond your control, but can dramatically shape your fate, especially during your childhood. As much as we would have liked to have been born somewhere else, you can’t reverse it.
This form of luck is also referred to as blind luck. It includes lucky moments that are completely random. Think of opening a locker at the airport, only to find that there is still a $100 bill in there. Or getting the first bingo and putting all those elderly women to shame. Drawing two aces in a game of poker (if you don’t know the dealer).
You can also consider examples of blind bad luck, such as being involved in a rear-end collision or the outbreak of a pandemic.
In all these instances, your fortune is beyond your control. Therefore, this is luck that we simply have to accept and stop wondering about. So let’s focus on types of luck that we can influence.
Luck through Motion
Suppose you pick up a basketball for the first time in your life. If you try 5 times to throw a basketball into the hoop, maybe you’ll hit one or two with some luck, but it’s likely that you’ll miss most of the shots. But if you were to show up on the basketball court for 30 days in a row to spend half an hour on three-pointers, you’ll undoubtedly hit more shots after a month. Plus, by being on the court, you have the chance of running into other basketball players who might give you some hints.
Now when a friend sees you hit three points in a row, he will no longer say that it was just luck. but you have developed a skill.
That’s how luck through motion works. It’s about consistently improving your craft and opening yourself up to opportunities, so that you have a better chance of success. You can think of this as increasing your odds through quantity and showing up to places where luck might happen.
Some examples of luck through motion:
- Sales people cold reaching out to potential clients en masse, in hopes of getting a sale. If you reach out enough, eventually a client will bite.
- A fledgling actress who goes from audition to audition. Not only will she get better at auditioning, but she also meets many people from the film industry.
- A Twitter user who tweets every day to a small audience. Until one day, one of his tweets is retweeted by an account with 50k followers.
Luck through motion is reflected in our language in many forms: Hard works pays off. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You reap what you sow. Today’s tears water tomorrow’s gardens. Hustle 24/7.
The keywords of this type of luck are consistency, persistency and effort.
Probability of luck = skill x exposure
Luck through Receptivity
This form of luck is characterized by having a superior observation.
Sagacity, that is the keyword here. Due to all your knowledge and past experience, you will become very good at spotting luck. You have developed a nose for opportunities and can rely on your gut to avoid predicaments.
If you are very skilled in a particular field, you will notice when there is a breakthrough in that area. Other people who are not attuned to it, will not even notice the opportunity. You become sensitive to luck and that comes from skill, knowledge and dedication.
Think of those who buy shares in a start-up before the price skyrockets. The music producer who knows how to sample a popular song from the 60s to create a new iconic beat for a rap song. Or the artist Banksy, who walks along the same walls as hundreds of thousands of people before him, but sees a unique opportunity for a new work of art.
“Perception precedes reality.”
~ Andy Warhol
Most innovations come from making new associations between existing things. But for that to happen, you have to have a far-reaching knowledge of what already exists. The chances of finding a cure for cancer without any medical background are nil. But someone who has years of experience and is part of a network of specialized researchers has a significantly better chance.
Luck through Attraction
The fourth type of luck is the hardest one, where luck finds you, because you’ve built yourself a unique character.
You have established a personal branding that makes you an authority in a field. Your status gives you an option on opportunities not available to ordinary people. People know: if we include you, it will work in our favor. In this form of luck, other people create the opportunities for you, and you only have to say yes to the ones that appeal to you the most. You become, as it were, a magnet for opportunity.
Think about Warren Buffett. He has made a name for himself because of his solid investments and the fortune he built with his portfolio. Because of his track record, people trust his decisions. He no longer has to look for opportunities; people come to him with all kinds of opportunities.
It is similar to your parents always coming to you when there is a problem with the computer. Within the family, you are the authority on everything with a plug. Your parents know that you are their best bet to get their problem solved. Now you probably won’t ask for money to help them, but if you did, you would be a millionaire by now.
If you manage to build a system where you naturally attract luck, luck becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How to increase your luck
Now that we’ve have established the different types of luck that we can control, we can think of strategies that will improve our chances.
Get in Motion
Create more opportunities to run into luck, by putting in effort and putting yourself out there. Strengthen your self-discipline and make sure you show up consistently.
- Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.
- Try new sports and hobbies.
- Go to events and MeetUps.
- Find a training buddy.
- Go out more often.
- Find flexible workspaces around you.
- Work from a coworking space.
- Switch jobs.
Become more Receptive
Build expertise through experience and discovering how the world works. Become more alert to opportunities and form associations that other people don’t instantly see.
- Read the classics.
- Study Greek and Eastern philosophy.
- Become mindful through meditation.
- Eat healthy and sleep sufficiently.
- Follow key players in your topic on Twitter.
- Subscribe to relevant subreddits.
- Talk with people from all layers of society.
- Read biographies of successful entrepreneurs.
- Build a note-taking system.
Increase your Attractiveness
Build self-confidence and make name for yourself. Show the world what you’re capable of.
- Build a personal brand.
- Deploy various channels (YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, newsletters)
- Host events in-person or virtual events.
- Blog about your topic.
- Improve your public speaking skills.
- Mention what you do whenever you meet someone new.
- Work on your personal elevator pitch.
- Improve your storytelling.
- Take courses in marketing and sales.
- Leave an impression in every conversation.
Does Superstition Lead to Success?
In every NBA game, Michael Jordan wore his light blue North Carolina Tar Heels shorts from his college under his Chicago Bulls shorts. Lovebirds used to attach a lock to the fences of the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, as a sign of their bond of love and for good fortune. Until the municipality removed them all in 2015, because the weight of all the locks could cause the bridge to collapse.
Serena Williams is one of the most successful tennis players in the world. She herself attributes part of her success to set rituals performed during a match. These quirks include bringing her shower sandals to the court, tying her shoelaces a specific way and a ball-bouncing ritual before every serve. If it is her first serve, she’ll bounce the ball exactly five times. Before second serves, on the other hand, Williams bounces the ball just twice. And if you’re one of her friends or family, you must remain in the exact same seating positions for every single match. Apparently any changes in her guests’ seating order will throw her off her game.
Believe in luck to increase your chances
Superstition may be nonsense, from an objective point of view, but if you believe in it, it can help. Some evidence supports the idea that belief in luck acts like a placebo, producing positive thinking and improving people’s responses to events. People who believe in luck tend to be more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, and have overall better moods.
So if you have a favorite number, a color that makes you feel good, or a set ritual that gets you in the zone, stick with it.
Under the same umbrella, we can talk about karma and the idea that doing good pays off. Yes, karma exists, in the sense that it makes you more optimistic and other people may see your good deed and therefore be more inclined to do something in return. There is no all-seeing eye that keeps a tally of how often you do good or bad. It is simply what you radiate, onto others and yourself. Karma is just you, repeating your patterns until you finally get what you deserve. It’s a perfect example of the Law of Attraction.
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