The Luck Factor: Four Simple Principles That Will Change Your Luck And Your Life helps us understand why people are lucky and unlucky.
The power of luck
Luck exerts a dramatic influence over our lives. A few seconds of bad fortune can unravel years of striving, while a moment of good luck can lead to success and happiness. Luck has the power to transform the improbable into the possible; to make the difference between life and death, reward and ruin, happiness and despair.
John Woods, a senior partner in a large legal firm, narrowly escaped death when he left his office in one of the Twin Towers in New York seconds before the building was struck by a hijacked aircraft. This is not the only time that has been lucky. He was on the thirty-nine floor of the World Trade Center when it was bombed in 1993, but escaped without injury. In 1988, he was scheduled to be on the Pan-Am flight that exploded above Lockerbie in Scotland, but canceled at the last minute because he had been cajoled into attending an office party.
The effects of good and bad luck are not confined to matters of life and death. They can also make the difference between financial reward and ruin.
In June 1980, Maureen Wilcox bought tickets for both the Massachusetts lottery and the Rhode Island Lottery. Incredibly, she managed to choose the winning numbers for both lotteries but didn’t win a penny–her Massachusetts numbers won the Rhode Island Lottery and her Rhode Island numbers won the Massachusetts lottery.
Other lottery players have had the gods of fortune smile on them. In 1985, Evelyn Marie Adams won $4 million on the New Jersey lottery. Four months later she entered again and won another $1.5 million. Even luckier was Donald Smith. He won the Wisconsin State lottery three times–in May 1993, June 1994, and July 1995–collecting $250,000 each time. The chances of winning this lottery even once are over a million to one.
But it isn’t just about the money. Luck also plays a vital role in our personal lives.
Standford psychologist Alfred Bandura has discussed the impact of chance encounters and luck on people’s personal lives. Bandura notes both the importance and prevalence of such encounters, writing that
…some of the most important determinants of life paths often arise through the most trivial of circusmtances.
He supports his case with several telling examples, one of which was drawn from his own life. As a graduate student, Bandura became bored with a reading assignment and so decided to visit the local golf links with a friend. Just by chance, Bandura and his friend found themselves playing behind two attractive female golfers, and soon joined them as a foursome. After the game, Bandura arranged to meet up with one of the women again, and eventually ended up marrying her. A chance meeting on a golf course altered his entire life.
Maximize your chance opportunities
[bluebox] Lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives.[/bluebox]
They do this in various ways.
- They initiate conversations with more people because they are extroverts. More people start to talk to them because of their social magnetism. And they are good at keeping in touch with people.
- Lucky people are also more relaxed than unlucky people, and this makes them more able to notice unexpected chance opportunities in many different aspects of their lives.
- Finally, lucky people also introduce more variety and new experiences into their lives, which helps to increase the likelihood of their experiencing, and maximizing, chance opportunities.