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’.
- They create, notice, and act upon chance opportunities that come up.
- They make good decisions using their intuition as well as their logic.
- They have positive expectations about the future.
- 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.
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.
- 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.