Life is full of lucky happenstance.
But, in reality, a lot of these apparently lucky outcomes have totally predictable causes.
You can’t control everything in life. But luck is often more predictable than you might think, and we can all adapt our behavior, prepare for randomness and nudge the system so it works in our favor.
Appearing last could help your chances of being lucky.
So let’s dive in and find out why lucky people are lucky, and how you can learn to be lucky yourself.
In any situation where a number of people, objects or performances are judged against each other, being among the last to be judged increases your chances of success.
By the end, competitors are more likely to pick up those high marks, however, since the judges know there is no one else coming who could trump them.
So going last is lucky. If you can choose a job interview slot, go last. Want to pick up that hot guy at the bar? Make your attempt late in the evening.
Humans like familiar things, so looking the part and being in the right place will increase your luck.
the exposure effect, which predicts that people will like things they’re familiar with.
So we tend to like what we know, and, in general, we’re most familiar with whatever we regularly get physically close to.
Humans are predisposed to favor attractive people, meaning beautiful people get lots of luck.
So, whether with your Linkedin profile, your clothes or the strength of your handshake, try to make that first impression a good one. It really does matter.
We all have that good-looking friend who was the college quarterback, always got the girls and is now raking in millions at Goldman Sachs. Beautiful people simply seem to have all the luck.
And, in truth, beautiful people do have a lot of luck because humans are predisposed to favor attractive people.
Confidence creates opportunities for lucky breaks, but it’s more dependent on social conditioning than we might think.
Our brains seamlessly make a series of logical leaps – from “this person is beautiful” to “this person must have good genes” to “this person is likely to be smart and well-adjusted.”
Confidence is about focusing more on reward than risk.
People who are able to push activation over inhibition are luckier because they are more likely to get into the situations – talking to potential partners, demanding a promotion – that create opportunities for luck.
Take time to remind yourself of your strengths.
To be truly successful, hard work isn’t enough. Rather, you need multiple pieces of luck to come together.
Researchers exploring the link between genes and athletic performance have found that genes can account for anywhere between 31 and 85 percent of variation between athletes. So the difference between an Olympic medalist and an “also ran” doesn’t depend on practice alone; it’s also genetic.
To add to genes, resources and location, you also need mental toughness. Reaching the very top in any field depends on never saying, “I quit.”
The likes of Tom Brady, a superstar quarterback, are capable of looking at a loss and criticism as a learning experience time and time again, relentlessly focusing on improvement and exercising unyielding self-control.
Self-control is an essential component to success.
Sure, hard work is important. But it’s not enough on its own.
Self-control, and investing time and effort in activities that are only rewarding in the long-term, is a great way to generate successful, apparently lucky outcomes.
If learning new skills feels like hard work, that’s because it really is.
Connecting with other people will help generate new opportunities.
So cultivate your self-discipline, and when a lucky opportunity pops up, you’ll be well placed to capitalize on it,
Staying curious about new things will increase your chances of finding luck.
Make crystal clear that you are genuinely interested in the other person. Send unmistakably friendly signals, like smiles and leaning in, and make open, welcoming gestures. If you are unmistakably pleasurable to be around, people will open up and warm to you quickly.
Being cautious, or curious, about new things is self-perpetuating.
Say yes to things. Stay curious. In the end, you might just get lucky.
Maximize your lucky opportunities by regularly trying new things.
About the book:
Try out and learn different activities as much as possible. Learn computer programming, study French or try out a new sport. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a world-class talent you never knew you had, or meet your next business partner in class. At worst, you’ll get a better idea of what you truly enjoy doing!
Can You Learn to Be Lucky (2018) explores how unseen biases dictate our personal behavior and world events in ways that are often quite predictable. By understanding the mechanisms behind seemingly lucky events, we can learn how to harness luck to our advantage.
About the author:
Karla Starr is a journalist and writer focusing on popular science and the subject of luck. She has written for the Atlantic, Slate, the Guardian and the Los Angeles Times. Fifteen years ago, she almost died in a car accident. She was lucky enough to survive.