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Can You Make Luck Happen?

Thursday, April 12, 2018 | by Rachel Trainum


Two people discussing luck and each of them have different views. One says "Ugh they always have all the luck and I never do" and the other says, "I always seem to get lucky". Was the potential for the first person stopped because of their attitude and thinking they were unlucky? And what about person number two? Did their positive belief in thinking they always are lucky actually enable them to be lucky?

Luck is often referred to as random or by chance. But can we make luck? And if we do, is it actually considered luck?

So how does luck happen and how can someone make themselves become luckier? Together authors Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh began researching luck and the creation of luck, for their book How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life.

Kaplan offers a story of living in Manhattan and how her husband always manages to find a parking spot right in front of a theater they frequently attend, yet she never manages to get the same lucky parking spot. It'd be fair to say that her husband is being more observant watching for people going to their car and other potentially small factors that someone in a rush or not paying attention might miss.

She believes her husband makes himself lucky by being patient, observing, preparing by arriving early to have enough time to park and using his knowledge of the area to know where might be an empty spot.

This leads into Kaplan saying that to be lucky you have to know what you want before you start looking for luck. Each person is different for how they can achieve their goal.

She theorizes that luck happens at the intersection of chance, talent and hard work.

Marsh says in the book "Opportunities are all around you, and you just have to learn to see them," and goes on to say "There are ways everyone can make themselves luckier."

Luck doesn't happen for those who aren't trying to achieve a goal. Sitting around and waiting for luck to happen to you isn't going to work. You have to put in effort of some kind, which puts you in the position for luck to happen to you.

Marsh then talks about how Mother Teresa strictly flew first class and was criticized for it. But there was a reason she was buying a costly ticket considered luxurious to some. By placing herself in a position surrounded by other wealthy people in first class she was positioning herself to be lucky for raising money for her charity.

At first you think it's another example of donated dollars not going to support the people who which the money was originally raised for. But Marsh says that by buying a ticket for first class she was surrounding herself with others who could afford first class tickets and probably donate large sums of money on behalf of themselves or their company. She could raise more money that way than sitting with other individuals in coach who could spare maybe 20 dollars as a donation versus 20,000 dollars.

She was able to raise funds simply by placing herself in a seat to be lucky and talking to those around her. Mother Teresa put in effort on these flights and wasn't choosing seat 1A because of the extra leg space.

Effort and will to continue on also seems to be at play for luck. This is what people would call determination. People who are determined tend to be luckier. When you're at work and faced with a challenge, one person might look and not find what they're looking for and give up. Whereas their coworker will continue even when others have stopped to try and find a solution to the challenge and discover the answer.

Their coworker might call them lucky because they found the answer first, but it's probably because they were more determined and were being observant to the possible solutions.

What can professionals do to create luck?

  1. Put in the effort by paying attention closely.
  2. As Tero says "tend to your net". The network of people who have can create luck for you when you need help, looking for advice or even a new job opportunity.
  3. Take a chance and try.

I'll leave you with an example on luck. Two employees are wanting for the same position. The first goes into the meeting knowing he has a good relationship with the boss but doesn't talk about what he'd do for the company if given the new role. Employee two also has a good relationship with the boss, but talks and explains his ideas and goals he hopes to achieve for the company if given the new position. Both qualified, but one went in prepared with evidence of the effort and determination he has to have the new role. Who got the position?

"Because if you're not prepared, you're going to blow the chance you've been given." Says Marsh.


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