We all know of people who seem to be lucky (or unlucky). Why is this? Using some insights from three books ('Blink' by Malcolm Gladwell, 'The Luck Factor' by Richard Wiseman and 'The Drunkards Walk' by Leonard Mlodinow), I've come up with some interesting observations.
These three books support a commonsense approach to being lucky in 2010. These are the facts around being lucky:
Keep trying because the more you try the more likely you are to succeed.
Support your friends and build networks because, as well as making you feel good, chance encounters bring opportunities.
Set positive goals because it works - it really, really works!!
Trust your intuition because we store a lot of knowledge in our subconscious.
Believe in yourself because most of what happens in life (eg success/failure) is random and not a result of any 'pattern'.
Be enthusiastic and positive because it builds resilience and keeps you healthy.
Mlodinow, author of "The Drunkards Walk", is a mathematician (who also co-authored a book with Stephen Hawking) and believes that much of life is pure chance and the results we get can be highly random. We think we have a greater influence on life events than we really do. This controversial idea is resisted by us as human beings, as "we need to feel we are in control, and hence we misinterpret random events" to give us the comfort of believing we had an influence on them. We are hard-wired to make associations and find patterns even when they aren't there. So it is a tragedy when a belief in the judgment of experts or the marketplace rather than a belief in ourselves causes us to give up. Mlodinow believes in keeping on trying because the more you try, the more likely you are to succeed.
Wiseman is a psychologist who in 'The Luck Factor' has studied lucky and unlucky people, and their behaviours and attitudes. His research shows that people who think they are lucky have large networks. They are exposed to a wider range of situations and experiences and people."This results in a massive network of luck and a huge potential for chance opportunities." Lucky people also set positive goals and focus on the good things in life. Exercise, nurturing friendships and having enjoyable pastimes have also been widely shown to maintain good mental health.
Gladwell is a journalist who in 'Blink' has looked at how 'experts' make (correct) rapid decisions and judgments, seemingly by intuition. He reviews examples of where this has happened and suggests that we are best to trust our intuition and make snap judgements in areas where we have deep experience and knowledge. Trusting your intuition to make quick judgments in areas you have little knowledge of is risky. So yes - listen to your intuition or 'gut feel', but if the decision or judgment you make has high risk (eg. financial) or high impact (eg. selection) then relying on that intuition without a solid base of knowledge or experience means you are just throwing your lot in with chance. You are welcome to click here to forward this article to a colleague who may find it useful, Thanks, Susan