Saturday, 12 October 2013

Luck: Chance, Design, or Something Else?

Every person you come into contact with probably has a different understanding of what good fortune entails.  Because while virtually everyone agrees luck to be an advantageous alignment or collusion of events; opinion varies on the degree to which such a collusion of events happens by chance or by design.

Optimists say you create your own luck (by design), while the less enthusiastic proclaim luck to be a completely random occurrence (chance).  Either way luck must be 'real' because there are cases of individuals and organizations who attain more than their peers do, often with less effort (all other factors being equal).  Some simply experience an advantageous collusion of events more frequently than others do.

That said, I believe that people who say nothing ever goes their way are living with an obstinate mindset.  Even those who feel they are jinxed occasionally have things go their way.  Many who bemoan a lack of fortune are simply unable to recognize or uncover a thinly veiled opportune moment.  In her book Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career, Jocelyn Glei said: "Lucky people take advantage of chance occurrences that come their way. Instead of going through life on cruise control, they pay attention to what’s happening around them and, therefore, are able to extract greater value from each situation."

But how does one become alert to and increase the frequency of these "chance occurrences"?  Exposing yourself to the unfamiliar is a key factor, according to Tina Seelig in What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: "Lucky people are also open to novel opportunities and willing to try things outside of their usual experiences. They’re more inclined to pick up a book on an unfamiliar subject, to travel to less familiar destinations, and to interact with people who are different than themselves."

Lucky moments can be spotted when you look at life through a wider lens.  Two people can look at the same thing and one person will see nothing of interest, while the other spots a range of possibilities.  Lucky moments cannot be conjured by following a recipe -- if there was such a recipe we would all get lucky at will -- but they can be found when one is willing to venture into unfamiliar territory, and recognized by keeping the mind attentive instead of automated.

New experiences give new perspectives; these new perspectives cause you to view things differently.  You can draw different conclusions and create unique solutions when you have a wide angle lens supported by an attentive mind.  The ideas and solutions borne out of this mindset will be what the uninitiated call a "lucky idea."  This is why immigrants can sometimes make a big impact in a foreign country.  Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya started Chobani Yoghurt in the United States, growing it into a $1 billion company.  “The knowledge I had from back home, ” he said, referencing his childhood in Turkey, “you know, working on a dairy farm making cheese and yogurts, and I would never thought one day I would put my knowledge in to work here.”  Chobani focus on Greek yogurt.  Before their arrival this variety of yogurt wasn't widespread in the United States, or at least, it wasn't as good as Chobani.

It must be remembered however that no lucky moment becomes a life-changing one unless it's acted upon.  People who are considered lucky would have taken their chances and committed at some point, usually with little to no certainty of the outcome.  Those who call luck a completely random, spontaneous event should therefore assess if they adopt such an understanding of luck to complement a narrow outlook; or if they really feel that life is so unfair that it concentrates all good fortune on a few for no apparent reason.

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