The Thursday Thesis – 8/11/2018
When the tough cop Dirty Harry suggests that the freshly shot bank robber should ask himself “...do I feel lucky?” you might think Harry is just taking the piss: after all, the dude is lying in a pool of his own guts and blood while Harry - the bouffant-haired cop - stands over him toting a .44 Magnum.
By definition, it ain’t the felon’s lucky day.
But what is luck, anyway?
I’d describe good luck as an innate tendency to attract positive situations, circumstances, people and things into one’s life.
Bad luck has the opposite effect.
So what about you – do you feel lucky?
Ask yourself if you are lucky, neither lucky or unlucky, or plain old unlucky. There’s no right or wrong answer, but your answer is important because you’re going to need a baseline of how lucky, or otherwise, you are right now.
You’ll need that baseline because – from today – you’ll know how to be lucky, every day of your life.
How would you like to be lucky every single day of your life?
Suppose I told you that there is a way to be lucky – how suspicious would you be?
Would your bullshit radar start bleeping, 8 to the bar?
Don’t take my word for it, have a gander at the work of Professor Richard Wiseman, an English psychologist, who set up a study of more than a thousand people, that lasted 10 years.
According to The Prof, luck isn’t anything unusual or supernatural; neither is it a gift – it’s a mindset and a behaviour.
So, chuck out your lucky rabbit’s foot, your four-leaf clover and your lucky horseshoe, and check yourself in to the School of Luck.
Wiseman’s study divided its subjects into three groups:
Then the fun started...
Across a variety of tests, the Lucky People consistently spotted opportunities which were only spotted half of the time by the Control Group, and which were spotted rarely by the Unlucky People.
After much testing and thinking, Wiseman concluded that Luck was really the combination of four key factors:
1: He thinks that Lucky People create and notice opportunities. They are optimistic and curious, open to possibility, and see opportunities everywhere.
Furthermore, Lucky People tend to be sociable, outgoing, helpful and likeable. They are attractive to other people, and their helpfulness generates reciprocation from others. That’s why Lucky People always seem to know the right people – they simply know more people and those people know them in a positive way.
Unlucky People were more pessimistic and less sociable, helpful and less likeable.
It seems common sense that you’re not likely to meet the person of your dreams or have that life changing idea if your are uninterested, holed-up in your room for days on end, and don’t experience much in the way of real human contact with a number of people. Maybe this is why stroppy teenagers who live online think that they are unlucky and life is unfair?
2: According to Wiseman, Lucky People make lucky decisions by trusting their intuition and instincts: They trust themselves and their decisions much more than Unlucky People do. Consequently they are much more likely to make any decision and take action on that decision, which naturally increases the likelihood of a positive outcome.
This conclusion of the study is just another way of saying “make a bloody decision and get to work” and “trust your gut” – two very old ideas that still hold true.
3: Wiseman’s study concluded that Lucky People create self-fulfilling prophecies: they know what they want and make plans to achieve it, based on their idea of what should happen.
This is no surprise to anyone familiar with the vast body of research on the effect of goal planning because Wiseman’s idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy is really the common sense idea that a person with a plan will achieve far more than a person who has no plan at all.
4: Finally, Lucky People are resilient and turn “unlucky” events into “lucky” outcomes: which is another way of saying that Lucky People are determined, resourceful and are able to see the positive potential in any situation.
Again, none of this is news: the annals of history are full of the stories of people who experienced unfortunate events but who were able to transform that event into the springboard to greatness, fame and fortune.
So, all in all, the science seems only to re-state a few unfashionable old ideas that our forefathers knew:
I’m not sure if we really needed a ten-year academic study to verify that Luck is really nothing more than a placeholder word for these qualities and processes, but Professor Wiseman has sold a mountain of books based on his research – the lucky bastard!
For a fuller read of Wiseman's findings, get the book here:
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