How to increase your good luck

Idea Journal Weekly 3


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Idea Journal Weekly 3

April 4 · Issue #237 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: We have more control over our luck than we think. And a key step to being more lucky is to acknowledge that. This issue offers a few ideas to help you increase your good luck.
(~5 min read)

#1. Go where the action is
Author Max Gunther writes in his book How to Get Lucky that big breaks in life flow through contacts between people: “Not necessarily close friendships, just contacts – sometimes tenuous ones.”
To increase your odds of experiencing such fortune you need to be in the “fast flow” of events – where things are happening, surrounded by a lot of people and interactions.
Gunther references management consultant and executive recruiter Eric Wachtel, who has watched hundreds of men and women climb their career ladders.
As Wachtel points out, you don’t have to be the life of the party, but we can all stay active and have a friendly attitude: “The worst thing you can do is withdraw from the network of friendships and acquaintanceships at home and at work. If you aren’t in the network, nobody is ever going to steer anything your way.”
To get in the fast flow at work, Gunther recommends that you go out of your way to make yourself known in your organization and industry. This can include becoming active in groups and events outside the narrow context of your role, and also seeking out assignments that take you beyond the group of people you typically interact with.
Outside of work, it’s just as important to meet a lot of people. For Gunther, group activities are ideal: even if you’re wedded to a particular activity or hobby, try to meet with others who share your interests.
In both contexts, the key is to ensure that the other people know enough about you: who you are, your interests, and what kind of rewards you look for in life. If people are going to help you, they need to know what you would consider a lucky break.
Plus, you want to take advantage of the happiness people feel when they’re able to help others with lucky breaks.
As the consultant Wachtel puts it, “It really is very pleasant to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, Charlie, there’s a job opening that sounds as if it might be your kind of thing.’”
#2. Give more to get more
Choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp writes in her book The Creative Habit that one way to increase your luck is to be more generous.
When you’re generous to someone and help them out, you are in effect making them lucky. Like a boomerang, this generosity can come back to you: “It’s like inviting yourself into a community of good fortune.”
Tharp writes that it took her years to appreciate the power of generosity, and its role in her success as a choreographer.
She learned over time that to be a great choreographer and teacher, you have to invest everything you have in your dancers: “You have to be so devoted to them and to the finished creation that your dancers become your heroes.”
That kind of generosity takes courage: to believe that the better the dancers look, the more satisfying the work will be.
It also takes humility: “For a few years there, when I was in my forties and could still move well, I would get really pissy when the inevitable moment arrived and I would have to recuse myself from the piece and hand it over to one of my dancers.”
But as Tharp points out, without such generosity, you’ll always be holding something back – the finished work shows it, and your audience knows it.
For Tharp, this link between generosity and luck isn’t confined to dance or art.
She suggests looking at the luckiest people around you – the ones you envy, who always seem to have destiny falling in their laps. If it happens repeatedly, it’s probably not random luck.
In Tharp’s experience, “If they’re anything like the fortunate people I know, they’re prepared, they’re always working at their craft, they’re alert, they involve their friends in their work, and they tend to make others feel lucky to be around them.”
#3. Make your good luck more predictable
Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant says in a podcast interview that most people are familiar with the following three types of luck:
1. Blind luck
This is when you get lucky for reasons that are out of your control.
2. Luck from hustling
In this case, the luck comes from your own hard work and persistence – you’re doing a lot of things, interacting with a variety of people, and creating opportunities.
3. Luck from preparation
When you become good at spotting new opportunities, you may experience this third type. If you are an expert in a given field, you will notice when a lucky break occurs, while others who lack the same experience and skill will miss it.
But there’s a fourth type of luck, based on your unique character and reputation. This type gets less attention, but it can give you more control over your outcomes.
For example, in the context of financial investments, you want the kind of reputation that makes people do deals through you.
If you’re seen as an effective, reliable, high-integrity person, then when other people want to do deals but they’re not sure how to structure them in a trustworthy way with strangers, they’ll seek you out. They will “… give you a cut of the deal or offer you a unique deal just because of the integrity and reputation that you have built up.”
Creating that kind of reputation doesn’t require waiting on other people or unforeseen events.
Quote of the week
“Luck is not chance—
It’s Toil—
Fortune’s expensive smile
Is earned— … ”
- Writer Emily Dickinson in her poem Luck is not chance (1350)
Idea Journal
Idea Journal
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