Types of luck
As a young boy, I frequently read biographies of famous people. I became a great fan of Benjamin Franklin and US President Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson once declared:
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
Franklin similarly shared Jefferson’s belief in luck – that it had everything to do with effort.
Yet, many people work hard and still remain luckless all their lives. Surely, there has to be more than the mere effort that determines luck?
Researchers Anthony K. Tjan, Richard Harrington and Tsun-yan Hsieh postulate that there are two types of luck – luck that you cannot affect (like who your parents are and your blood type, etc) and luck that you can influence (like your business success or your career progress).
In fact, they believe that a majority of “business luck” can be influenced and it is really about understanding how. Their conclusion: “luck is about attitude as much as it is about probability.”
They found that people who describe themselves as lucky tend to be luckier because of their right attitude. They concluded that the right attitude comprised three traits – humility, intellectual curiosity, and constant optimism.
Dale Carnegie said:
“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions – it is governed by your mental attitude.
Carnegie is right. As Idris accurately pointed out, if we learn to control the things that we can, including our reaction to the world around us, we may swing the luck pendulum. Our response to a disastrous occurrence is often more important than the incident in itself.
Authors John D. Krumboltz and Al S. Levin claim that there’s no such thing as luck. They describe luck as 'happenstance'.
They believe that “happenstance” isn’t something that randomly affects us but rather something we create out of the chance circumstances and encounters that run through our lives. A chanced occurrence, an unplanned meeting, or missed appointments may sometimes lead our lives into unexpected directions that might alter it and our careers. These “happenstances” may happen frequently to everyone. The key difference between lucky people and the “unlucky” ones is the ability to recognise these opportunities and leverage them.
Bette Nesmith Graham was a poor woman in Dallas, supporting her small child as a single mom. She got a job as a secretary and learnt shorthand and typing to ensure she kept her job. Yet, she constantly made typing errors.
She was an artist and she recalled how artists would paint over their mistakes on canvas. So, she decided to put some tempera water-based paint in a bottle and took her watercolour brush to the office, using it to correct her typing mistakes.
Before long, her invention, which she named “liquid paper”, became a worldwide hit and she built it into a multimillion dollar corporation.
Was she lucky? Or was this the ability to recognise opportunities even in mistakes?
There were thousands of secretaries who probably went through typing error anguishes just like Graham did, yet no one viewed it as an opportunity to create a solution to their nightmare.
No one can control every outcome but like Graham, leveraging our lucky breaks and taking action can increase the probability of our success.
Return on luck (ROL)
Jim Collins and Morten Hansen completed a nine-year research study of some of the most extreme business successes of modern times. They investigated the role of “luck” in these success stories.
Their conclusion: They found that both successful businesses and ineffective businesses had luck, both good and bad, in comparable amounts. Therefore, luck doesn’t cause extreme success.
Apart from that, they found something more interesting in their study. The successful companies were not lucky. Rather, they had a high return on luck (ROL).
Luck has nothing to do with success. The key to success is what people do when they are hit with a lucky circumstance or situation. They take that luck and create a huge return on it. That is the key difference.
Good and bad luck happens to everyone. The constantly “lucky” people recognise this luck, seize it, and then make the most of it.
So, what is your ROL?
There is a popular saying “you make your own luck”.
When we see luck as something that is beyond our reach or something that we can’t create, we become victims and complain about others and the world.
Reframing luck as something we may in regardless of how limited our influence may be) is a powerful way to move from being a hostage to being a leader.
Kyle Chandler concludes that:
“Opportunity does not knock; it presents itself when you beat down the door.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines luck as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity; a force that operates for or against an individual.”
So, if luck is a force, you should be able to tap into it… at any time! May the Force be with you!
Read the rest of the article here and find out how to increase your Luck: Top 10 Ways To Increase Your “Luck”
Watch my interview with Datuk Seri Idris Jala: