A couple of weeks ago I got handed a belated Christmas card. It was given to me by a third party, and I was expecting to open it and find a cheery message and a signature. I got the cheery message part, but instead of a signature (I don’t know who sent it, though I have my suspicions), there was a hundred dollar bill.
That’s right. Someone anonymous gave me a hundred dollars.
I’m lucky, aren’t I?
Then there’s my daughter the music teacher who got a phone call a couple of months ago from a woman she didn’t know offering a job she hadn’t known was available. She started teaching her new students two weeks later.
Actually, yes. Luck did have something to do with both of those events, though the actual lucky breaks were not recognized as such at the time, and had occurred years prior to the actual events.
Luck is one thing I’ve actually had in my life in abundance, and I got to thinking and researching about why some people seem luckier than others.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
There are two differing and mutually exclusive beliefs about luck. The first is that some people are naturally lucky, and others naturally unlucky. The opposite belief is that everyone has both lucky and unlucky breaks in their lives, and it isn’t the presence or absence of those breaks that brings what we call “luck” but the actions you take when these random events occur.
One belief is empowering, one disempowering, and I’m going to believe you have enough intelligence to figure out which is which.
If one believes that certain people are inherently lucky or unlucky, there is absolutely no reason for me to write this blog post. So obviously, I believe that luck is what happens when you take advantage of random events.
There’s a lot of bullshit out there that tells you that you can increase your chances of winning the sweepstakes by visualization and lucky numbers and writing out affirmations and such like. Visualization techniques are of use in certain situations, but really the only thing that can influence your chances of winning a lottery or a sweepstakes contest are the number of tickets you buy or entries you submit.
Techniques such as wearing lucky socks or other articles of clothing are mere superstitions, and won’t help you attract luck in any form.
One of the first things you need to figure out is which events are truly random, and cannot in any way be influenced or controlled, and which events can be used as opportunities for betterment.
Sweepstakes and the lottery are examples of truly random events that you cannot in any way influence to your advantage without breaking the law or cheating. And your chances of winning are so small, that even buying hundreds of tickets won’t really help you.
Your chances of winning a lottery with a single ticket range from a high of about one in fourteen MILLION to a low of about one in TWO HUNDRED MILLION. Lotteries are quite literally for losers! We all hear about the winners, of course, and we believe somebody has to win, so why won’t it be us? Well, why will it be you? What you don’t hear is about the millions of people who bought tickets and didn’t win. Come to think of it, if you’re reading this post, chances are close to 100% that you’ve never won big, either.
There are winners in the lottery. The people who sell the tickets win. The rich people who don’t buy tickets win because services that might have otherwise been funded by fair taxation are funded by lotteries, which are really a tax on fools, usually poor fools.
If you’re looking for luck so you can win the lottery, stop right now. To quote Vernon Dursley: “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MAGIC!”
But what about that other kind of luck, the kind my daughter and I seem to have? You know, job offers and hundred dollar bills coming seemingly out of nowhere?
Well, the short answer is that those two things (and many other things besides) did not come out of nowhere. There was preparation involved, work that took years in the making. But because it involved work, and not something like luck, the good news is that YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN LUCKY BREAKS!
How do we do it?
1) Lucky people are friendly people.
We help others out. We join organizations, and we contribute to them.
Regarding myself and my daughter, we’re both in an orchestra, one that contains both amateur and professional musicians. My daughter has contacts in the music world that she regularly keeps in touch with. We belong to a church. We go almost every Sunday. Allison teaches Sunday School, I help out in the office. We know the ministers, and the folks who run the food pantry, and they know us.
And so our luck now doesn’t seem so lucky, does it? We have friends who care, and those friends help us out by recommending us when jobs become available, and our names come to mind when there’s a little extra money to hand out at Christmas.
Having a wide circle of acquaintances who think well of you and who know what you need are a critical part of having “lucky breaks,” but there are other traits that contribute to maximum luck.
2) Lucky people get up off their a$$ and get out of the house.
No one, absolutely NO ONE, ever got lucky watching television! NO ONE ever got lucky playing video games.
Get up out of your easy chair, and get out of the house. Do something, learn something, meet someone. The more varied your environments, the more random events there will be to take advantage of.
3) Lucky people know what they want.
That’s the starting point. If you don’t know what you want, you send mixed messages to your friends and acquaintances, and they may not think of you when what you’re looking for becomes available.
You want work? What type of work? What shift, what pay level, what company?
You probably won’t score a perfect match, but if you don’t know what you want, you can’t score a match at all!
4) Lucky people are flexible, and willing to work with what’s offered even if it’s not precisely what they were looking for.
Allison was actually looking to build her studio in one of three different cities: the one where we live, the one where she was already teaching, and a third city that had no Suzuki music school. The job offer was for none of those cities, and will require her to move. She took it anyhow, with great enthusiasm.
5) Lucky people prepare.
Allison wasn’t offered a job as a music teacher after a mere few years as a student. She has a bachelor’s degree in music, and a number of Suzuki teaching courses under her belt.
6) Lucky people take action.
When they see an opportunity, they act on it immediately. Eons ago (or so it seems), I’m told my grandfather had the chance to buy a parcel of land for a mere $100. Though a hundred dollars was a lot in those days, it wasn’t considered a huge price for that particular parcel of land, and if he’d taken action, taken out a mortgage, well… He didn’t. The parcel of land he was offered is the parcel of land that became Downsview Air Force Base and is currently Toronto/Downsview Airport. I don’t think I need to tell you that if my grandfather had taken action, instead of letting the opportunity go, I’d have had a very different life than the one I have now!
7) Lucky people aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
Sometimes you’ll make wrong decisions. Lucky people don’t view these as a signal that they should retreat from life. Instead, these “failures” are instead reframed as “learning opportunities.” They think, “So that didn’t work. What should I do differently next time?”
8) Lucky people don’t give up.
Lucky people understand that life is not a half-hour sitcom, with the problem presented in the first five minutes and resolved in the last five minutes. Sometimes it will take a lot of effort to get what you need and want.
9) Lucky people treat others with respect and give as well as take.
Those who disrespect others or only take will soon find their pool of friends drying up, and their acquaintances will actively avoid them. I’ve even know folks who have cut ties with their own family members because the relationships were toxic and one-sided. How lucky do you think you’ll be if your own mother can’t stand to be around you?
10) Lucky people are constantly learning new things.
Again, it’s like getting out of the house, only mentally instead of physically. You can’t get a job as a music teacher, for example, if you don’t know anything about music.
A thread on Cracked.com was built around learning a new skill in 2013. It’s still going, but the title has changed to reflect the change of year. There are stories in the thread of both success and failure, but one of the successes stands out for me:
Re: The “Learn a Fascinating New Skill in 2013” Project
Quote from: antlia on December 19, 2012, 09:53 AM
This article is in sync with the change of view point I had during 2012 when I thought I was going to die. So, I am going to get ridiculously good at making infographics. That’s it, regarding learning a new skill this is what I want to do. Let’s see how it goes during 2013.
For the record, I’m a political scientist, I don’t know shit about using Illustrator or whatever designers use. I don’t care. I enrolled in a MOOC (massive open online course) about inphographics to begin. It starts in january 12th.
Good luck everyone!!
Quote from: antlia on January 04, 2013, 08:19 AM
Hey guys, I received the first email from my MOOC teacher and I feel very excited. As I said I know nothing about design and illustration but I’m all about learning right now. The first MOOC I took with the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera was great and helped me to get a part time job.
There are over 200 FREE courses at Coursera about pretty much everything I’ve read in the forum, just check them out. I know there are other sites from MIT or Harvard, just search for MOOC’s on Google and you’ll find the right tool for your learning a fascinating new skill quest.
Good luck and tons of discipline for everyone!!
Reply #984 on: May 06, 2013, 07:16 AM
Beginning of may and even if it is hard to believe for myself, I got a job doing infographics as a political scientist. I forgot about this forum but it just hit me and I had to tell you! Tomorrow I’m starting my new job as information designer of scientific information for the government of my country. Da fuck? My fascinating new skill in 2013 is giving me something I’ve craved as far as I can remember, a cool and well paid job, and I’m not YET ridiculously good at making infographics. They just checked my CV and my little portfolio and decided to hire me.
Guys, I’m trying to describe what it means for me and what it means for us all. It actually works, LOL I feel like presenting an infomertial but what can I say? My life changed in 4 months just by deciding to learn a new skill to put together what I already know.
Don’t give up. If you turned down the project it’s time to come back. If it’s not giving you results yet, don’t let it go, it will serve you well sooner or later!!
Did you get that? She started learning a new skill on January 12th, and had a dream job by the beginning of May, using that skill.
If it’s beginning to sound like “luck” and “hard work” are equivalent, you’ve got the idea. Random events happen to everyone. Those who make the best of what they’re given are often seen by others as “lucky,” but what’s really happening is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that those who believe in luck simply don’t want to see.
If you’re one of those who continues to believe that luck is a matter of the right genetics and the right numbers and the right socks, I can’t help you, and neither can anyone else. And I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll continue being unlucky.
But if you embrace the fact that you make your own luck by preparing for and making the most of those random events that happen to all of us, I can pretty much guarantee that 2014 will be your luckiest year yet!