Have you ever got rejected for a position you’ve interviewed for? Or maybe you’ve received the wrong orders when ordering food? Sometimes, we blame it on luck when these things happen.
But do you know that you can increase your chance of being lucky? Or, to put it in another perspective, do you know that luck is something we can partly control?
Let’s look at how we can seize any opportunity and bring fortune to our side.
Be at the right place at the right time
In a study about luck written by Richard Wiseman in 2003 , there is an anecdote about a man named Barnett Helzberg:
Barnett Helzberg Jr. is a lucky man. One day he was walking past the Plaza Hotel in New York when he heard a woman call out, “Mr. Buffett,” to the man next to him. Helzberg wondered whether the man might be Warren Buffett — one of the most successful investors in America. Helzberg was thinking of selling his company and realised that his business might be the type of company that would interest Buffett.
Helzberg seized the opportunity, walked over to the stranger, and introduced himself. The man did indeed turn out to be Warren Buffett. The chance meeting proved highly fortuitous because Buffett agreed to buy Helzberg’s chain of stores about a year later. And all because Helzberg happened to be walking by as a woman called out Buffett’s name on a street corner in New York.
What happened with Helzberg might seem like pure luck, and the story may not provide the whole context of the situation: Why was Helzberg there? What was he doing?
If there is one thing we can learn from this chain of events, it’s this: show up every day. Make a move — don’t just sit still and be idle. That way, you increase your chance of being at the right place at the right time.
Just enough preparation
The Roman philosopher Seneca once said luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
For example, to be able to get a job, you have to be prepared and have a resume. Only after you have it can you apply for a job. Your resume (or your work experience) is the preparation, and the job vacancies are the opportunities.
In the story of Barnett Helzberg Jr., his previous act of building the business for years was essential to the chance that came upon him that day. The opportunity was answered with the right amount of preparation.
You might lose opportunities and chances because you lack preparation. The more you prepare, the more you can utilise the opportunity that comes before you.
Taking action is the last thing needed to maximize your chance of being lucky. Being well prepared at the right place and time provides the foundation, but nothing will happen if you don’t take action.
In our previous example of finding a job, once you are well-prepared with a resume, you need to take action — which is to apply for the job. And only after you do will luck play its role: by giving you a chance to get a call back from the company.
Helzberg Jr. took a leap of faith. He walked to a stranger who turned out to be Warren Buffett. He took action.
When the opportunity comes to you, don’t second guess yourself. Trust your gut and go for it.
Be open and positive
A positive mind is the biggest amplifier for a person to be lucky. In Wiseman’s study about luck, personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense and anxious than lucky people. Research has shown that anxiety disrupts people’s ability to notice the unexpected.
When the unexpected comes, unlucky people tend to think about the negative outcomes, while lucky people think about the limitless possibilities of the unexpected.
The glass will always be either half full or half empty. But why stress about it? You can always fill the glass over and over again.
Lucky people, as it turned out to be, may not be as fortunate as they seem. They are still lucky indeed, but their preparation and action serve as variables that contribute to their luck.
Have a positive and open mindset, show up every day, be prepared for what you aim for, and take a leap when you have to. Only then will fortune be on your side.
Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, making lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, creating self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopting a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
This article was inspired by Richard Wiseman’s The Luck Factor which I happen to stumble upon while doing a research for another article.
I hope you find this post inspiring.
And whenever life feels too much, remember:
It's not going to be easy,
But it's not impossible.