• Running

    You can learn a lot about how people approach their careers by looking at how they approach their hobbies. Running is such an important part of my life that I have created a separate blog for it, Predawn Runner. Whether you are recreational or competitive, I welcome you to join me there in discussing how we fit running into an already-full life.

Why All the Clichés about Luck are True, and How to Be One of the Lucky Ones

coin-flip_phixrEver since it I found the article “Be lucky – it’s an easy skill to learn”, courtesy of @JeffreyJDavis via Twitter, I have thought a lot about the studies described and whether real life evidence is consistent with the results.  To summarize, this study found that those who self-identify as being “lucky” were far more able to take advantage of opportunities to win money or complete a task more expediently than those considering themselves “unlucky.”  Thus, this offers more support to the view that you can make your own luck (or fortune favors the brave, or whichever other cliché you wish).

The study probably leaves itself open for challenge. For example, were those identified as “unlucky” maybe just in a bad mood, or did they not bring their “A” game to the study?  Nonetheless, the message is clear and consistent with real-life experience.  There is little doubt that optimists tend to be luckier than pessimists.  I’m fortunate to be way out on the “naïve” end of the optimism spectrum; I’d definitely fall in the “lucky” category.

There have certainly been plenty of positive events in life that have come as a result of taking advantage of opportunities.  Take, for instance, meeting my wife, Robyn. We were set up on a blind date for her sorority date party our sophomore year in college.  Now, our natural tendencies, as cautious people, would be to say “sorry, too risky.”  However, neither of us had a particularly stellar dating record to that point. We both, independently, saw it as an opportunity to try something different, with much lower risk given the context of our past failures, and it has been pretty smooth sailing ever since.

Yes, that’s just one anecdote, but every time I think about a good job change, for example, I can trace it back to keeping a mind open to opportunities, or putting myself in the right place at the right time.  At a minimum, there can be no harm in having an open mind and breaking out of routines and comfort zones, as the article suggests.  Certainly, everyone has setbacks in life. Allowing your energy and outlook to be dictated by setbacks rather than opportunities, however, limits your potential for growth and happiness. I, for one, will choose optimism, even if it is, at times, naïve.

As the lyrics from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s song “Luck” suggest (and yes, I’m referencing a children’s hip-hop music artist):

Luck is kind of a funny thing, if you believe it you can have it.
There’s no telling what luck can bring, there’s no rules, everything is magic.
If you believe in luck, life is easy enough.

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