The Fallacy of Luck
Is Luck Real?
In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman indicates with a formula, that success is the result of talent plus luck.
Professor Richard Wiseman, who published “The Luck Factor”, looks at luck from a more practical perspective.
Where as Kahneman gives luck its usual mythical substance, some “thing” that can change the direction of our lives, for good or bad, Wiseman gives luck substance.
And I totally agree with Wiseman.
After years of reading, thinking and understanding how our mind works, I’ve come to the conclusion that luck is a state of mind, no different to anything else. Everything that we do, the reasons, the why’s, are a result of the way we think, our self image, our ego, our beliefs and fears.
Relationships, career, jobs, work, how much you get paid, are all because of our mindset. Are you willing to have an open mind, have humility to learn new things, go in new directions?
Are you willing to follow your intuition and trust in it?
Do you feel lucky?
Telling yourself that you are lucky is a conscious action, what Kahneman would refer to as a “System 2” action.
But, your subconscious (Kahneman’s “System 1”) may not agree with you, because of the beliefs, the biases you hold. So, when you tell yourself, “I am lucky”, unless you feel that you are truly lucky, then the words are empty spoken words. On the other hand, you can convince yourself that you are, by creating the feeling of luck and faking it long enough to believe it.
Karma and Destiny
There will be those of you who will say that your life is the way it is because it is destiny, it’s Karma, it’s God’s will.
Karma is actually a very good word to use in this case. It’s true meaning is that our current and future life and lives, if you believe in reincarnation, are dependant on our previous actions, in this and previous lives.
From that it can also be said that our luck, good or bad, depends on our actions.
And it does. The actions we carry out do decide the outcome of our lives. You only need to look at your life to confirm this for yourself.
We can look at this in a number of ways.
If you do good, you get good back. Do bad and you’ll get that back. Positive energy, negative energy.
Then there’s the “real life” view. If you want to be a doctor you must study to get into university, to carry on to your doctorship.
You want to be an athlete, you must train.
To learn all the cocktails you’ll serve and be the best at it, you have to practice – and have the volunteers to taste them.
All of this needs action. First, however, was the idea, the thought, the vision. You didn’t get there by chance. It was a decision you took, a choice you made, and that includes when you decided to make no choice.
It wasn’t “luck” that got you where you are. It was your way of thinking.
Can you change your luck?
Wiseman says you can and through a series of studies (links at the end of the article) he has shown that a change of mindset, a change of thinking, can change your luck.
From being unlucky or having bad luck, to being lucky and those who are lucky to becoming luckier still.
Wiseman identified four principles:
Just like the man who “by chance” heard a woman mention Warren Buffetts name, resulting in a multi-million dollar outcome, this was a result of noticing and acting on an opportunity. Also, what other steps did that man have to take to be there in the first place? What actions did he have to carry out?
Lucky people create, notice and act on opportunities. They network, are relaxed and open to new experiences.
By meeting more people you create more opportunities – you don’t know who you’ll meet. Be open to the subjects being talked about and truly listen, pay attention – do more listening than talking; it’s how you learn.
There’s no such thing as coincidence, it’s the result of the way you think and act that puts you in the “right place at the right time”. Not that idea we call “luck”.
By being relaxed, open to opportunities and experiences, you are not allowing blinders to stop you seeing more. By having an open mind you are more likely to see and hear the opportunities that come up during your day.
The other part is action – you have to act on the opportunities. You must have the courage to overcome your fears of criticism and rejection, and take the chance.
Otherwise it becomes another lost opportunity.
Intuition is that feeling you get that tells you to go left instead of right; to go into that underwear shop, even though it’s for the opposite sex; to go down that aisle even though there ought to be nothing of interest for you.
Kahneman says that our intuition can be wrong, about statistics mostly. He is right, if you don’t know your intuition and it is heavily biased.
Most of us though have a good basis – we know right from wrong, we know what we want and what we don’t want.
Our intuition is based on what we hold true in our minds. So, if you are clear in what you want, your intuition will guide you there.
Listen to the feeling you get; doe it feel good or not? If you’re unsure then you’re still learning to understand yourself.
Wiseman point out that meditation can help in building your intuition. Having a clear mind, an open mind and unbiased, uncluttered, allows that small voice to come through and hear it, as Steve Jobs had referred to in a college speech.
Expect to be lucky. It’s a mindset thing. If you think you’re lucky, you will be.
The subconscious (System 1) is a goal seeking mechanism – use it the right way. Believe and feel lucky, expect to be lucky, to get the opportunities, to meet the right people, at the right time and place. Your mind will do the rest.
Follow and listen to your intuition, go and talk to that man or woman, because you just don’t know where it will lead. It could be that you are there for them.
- Failure and Bad Luck
We’ll all come across failure and “bad luck”, but it’s how we see it that makes the difference.
I recall Gary Vaynerchuk talking about how he had lost a deal he’d had foe a while, but, rather than looking at the loss he was grateful to have had it for as long as he did.
Our perception on negative circumstances is important.
Failure means, “well, that’s not how to do it next time”. Bad luck means, “there’s something better coming along”.
Wiseman says that lucky people “spontaneously” visualise how what happened could have been worse. They see things from a positive perspective.
To wallow in negativity, brings negativity – Karma. To look at the positive side, gives a fortuitous image.
You might have crashed the car, but you are unscathed. And if you broke an arm or a foot, how could it have been worse?
Look at the positive side or as the “Monty Python” cast would say, “Always look on the bright side of life”.
Why would people rely on luck?
There are those that would rather ignore the above and truly rely on luck.
Because, it’s easier than effort. it’s easier to blame their current life on something else but themselves – it’s easier to blame someone else or, in this case, something else for their misfortune, than to take full head-on responsibility for their lives.
Unfortunately, until you take 100% responsibility for your life, your life will not change.
The blame game is compelling. It removes some of the anxiety of life.
On the other hand, life stays the same. And if you want to change the direction and the outcome of your life, become “luckier”, you must take the “bull by the horns”, take on full responsibility and understand that it will take effort.
There’s no room for laziness; the downfall of many.
Of course, what I’ve written could be a result of my biased ideas. If I feel that luck is not part of my world then I would want to disprove the existence of luck. On the other hand, if I am a lucky person, ill want to prove it’s existence.
One thing I am beginning to understand is my mind and how it works.
Luck is a state of mind and it’s something that you do have control over, if you choose to.
The thing to understand is that luck is only an idea. Yup, only an idea. Nothing more – nothing less.
Think of it this way – luck is not a real thing, it’s not something that you can experience with any of your five senses and it’s not something that is part of your intuition or physical being. It only exists in your mind.
It’s just like the idea that electricity is energy. You can’t see the energy but you see the result of it. We simply believe that the energy exists because we see the outcome – electricity.
Luck is an idea we create in our own mind (the energy) and we see it’s outcome when it happens in our life (lucky or unlucky).
To be lucky or not is a decision and a choice. Of course, you could always let the four winds decide the life you will have.
How open were you at the start of this article? Did you see the message in the photograph?
‘There was a time when I met luck at every turn.’ But luck is the good fortune you determine for yourself: and good fortune consists in good inclinations of the soul, good impulses, good actions.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.