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How to Be Lucky

How to Be Lucky

How to Be Lucky

    Let me give you what might seem a strange piece of advice – be lucky. Sometimes you have good luck and sometimes you have bad luck. But do you have a choice? Can you make your own luck? Dr. Richard Wiseman has studied why some people are lucky and others are not. He advises that there are four main traits that lucky people have that help them to be ‘lucky’.

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    1. They create, notice, and act upon chance opportunities that come up.
    2. They make good decisions using their intuition as well as their logic.
    3. They have positive expectations about the future.
    4. They don’t let bad luck get them down; they find a way to turn it into good fortune.

    There are more details in his book, The Luck Factor.

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    By changing your attitudes, behaviours and actions you can change your luck. If you see obstacles as opportunities rather than difficulties then you can turn them to your advantage. If you notice unusual things and think laterally you can see novel openings. This is particularly true in the contexts of creativity and innovation.

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    • Sir Alexander Fleming noticed that a growth of mold in a petri dish resisted bacteria. He investigated this and discovered penicillin.
    • Clarence Birdseye noticed that people in Canada kept fish fresh by packing them in ice. He developed this idea and created frozen food industry.
    • Percy Spencer noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket melted when he stood in front of a magnetron. He used this insight to help develop the microwave oven.
    • Hiram Maxim found two problems when he went shooting. There was a powerful recoil after each shot which hurt his shoulder and he then had to go to the trouble of reloading. He wondered whether he could use one problem to solve the other. He invented the Maxim machine gun which used the energy from the recoil force to eject each spent cartridge and insert the next one.

    Each of these people was doubtless called lucky by some contemporaries. But their ‘luck’ was the product of observation, insight and action.

    Many people blame bad luck for their failures – especially on ventures where they invested considerable time and effort. People with positive outlooks recognise that each obstacle is a step along the way and that there is much that can be learned from setbacks. They learn lessons from reverses and they seek out fresh opportunities. They are always optimistic and receptive to ideas. They see opportunities in situations where others give up. They make their own good luck.

    When the great golfer, Gary Player, was asked why he was so lucky he replied, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’ So the lessons are clear. There is a way to be lucky. It involves a positive attitude, hard work, observation, preparedness, action and a willingness to see every setback as a learning opportunity and a step towards success.

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    More by this author

    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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