Is it better to be lucky, or good? Relying on luck is not a sound business strategy. It’s best to be both. Do we have a choice? It turns out we do, sort of.
Studies show lucky people think and act differently than those who are not. When I talk about being lucky, I’m referring to the luck we choose, not the luck we’re born with. Being born into a good family, having the right mentor, educational opportunities, in a great country, during peace time — most of these things are out of our control.
Does it seem like some people are just lucky in life? They are. Lucky (and unlucky) people have been well studied and there are some common traits or behaviors that in retrospect seem obvious.
Is luck random? Not really. We create our luck in life experiences. I’m not referring to luck in gambling. That’s different. That’s probabilities and statistics. That kind of luck is intriguing, but it is beyond the scope of this column.
We’ve all heard the famous saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” There is obvious synergy between the two concepts. Lucky people think differently. It’s not just hard work that pays off. Let’s break it down and take a look at the characteristics that can improve your “luck.”
■ Extroverted personality. This seems obvious. People who are out there a lot, doing lots of things, meeting lots of people, are logically exposed to more opportunities. Assuming they recognize some good ones, they would appear to have more luck. These are known as “people persons;” they seem to be lucky because they are. They helped make their own luck. They maximize their chances of luck striking them.
■ Tolerance for risk, even an affinity for risk. If you take more at bats, you’re going to hit more runs. If you are so risk averse that you don’t even play, it’s hard to win. I’ve never met a winner that didn’t bet.
■ Optimism. Lucky people find the good in any situation. In my experience, those who are pessimistic, unhappy or miserable are less likely to be around the great chances to improve their situation. This can be construed as being unlucky.
■ Intuition/follow your instinct. “Got a hunch, bet a bunch. Hunch is wrong, bunch is gone.” Lucky people trust their intuition. They access below-the-surface unconscious knowledge. Malcolm Gladwell’s widely acclaimed bestseller, “The Tipping Point,” is about just this trait. Deep down, we are experts at things we aren’t even cognizant of. This can be for unknowable reasons. Our brains are always working on the subconscious level. Winners trust their gut. They think out of the box. There are ways to access this, through meditation, mindfulness, contemplation. All of these can help you hear your inner voice.
In closing, I feel luck is where opportunity meets preparation. While we’re on the merry-go-round of life, be prepared to grab the golden ring. Then again, maybe one is just lucky to be born optimistic, outgoing and not risk averse.
When asked how I got this great gig writing for a prestigious business periodical, I just say, “Lucky, I guess.” ●
Steve Peplin is CEO of Talan Products