7 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

I am all for a bit of process improvement, it moves the world forward, but sometimes process improvement by itself isn’t enough.  As the man said:

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses ~ Henry Ford

If you really want a breakthrough there is a bit more to it than just continuous improvement and the odd kaizen event.  Take Google as an example, there is an organisation that has had more than it’s fair share of breakthroughs and innovations.  How did they achieve it?  According to the companies co founder Sergey Brin “The number-one factor that contributed to our success was luck.”

I am not sure I believe that, if it was just down to luck then he and I must have had about the same amount.  After all luck is just down to chance, and over the long run chance averages out.  Just like the rolling of dice.  Yet he is a billionaire, and I am not.

But there is far more to luck than just chance, studies show that some people are genuinely luckier than others and reap the rewards.  You can take steps to be luckier than you are today.

First you make luck and then you take it, let me explain:

Making Luck

Put yourself into situations where new things are likely to happen to you:

1.  Connect with people

Cultivating your connections will produce more opportunities.

Tasmania is a rather isolated place.  It is 130 miles south of Australia, the world’s most isolated continent.  When Europeans first visited it in 1642 they found 4,000 hunter gatherers who, unlike their main land Aboriginal cousins:

  • Couldn’t light a fire
  • Didn’t have boomerangs
  • Didn’t have specialised stone tools like axes
  • Couldn’t sew
  • Didn’t even know how to fish, even though they lived by the coast

The reason why, was that they were completely isolated, they didn’t have any connections.  Opportunities, suggestions, ideas, chance conversations, the stuff that luck is made from come from other people, from the connections you have.

Playing computer games all day won’t make you lucky.

2.  Change your routine

Routine is the enemy of serendipity.  Put yourself in new situations

  • Attend a different conference
  • Walk a different way to work
  • Sit with somebody new in the canteen at work

My life was re-defined simply because I flicked through the job section of a news paper that had been left behind in a cafe.  If I had stayed at home it wouldn’t have happened.

If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got ~ Anon

3.  Project Your Desires

If you know what you want but nobody else does, then all those connections you are busy keeping up really can’t help you.

The conversations about that new job you are looking for or the business you are trying to get off the ground, or the problem you have will open up a whole lot faster if people know what you have on your mind.

4.  Open Your Mind

If you walk around oblivious to what is happening you won’t notice what chance has thrown at you.

In 1995, a 28-year-old software developer called Pierre Omidyar wrote a bit of software and set up a site called AuctionWeb.  To test that the software was working properly he put up a listing for a single broken laser printer.

He was startled to discover that the junk item sold for $14.83.  Pierre contacted the buyer just to check he knew that the printer was useless:

“I’m a collector of broken laser pointers,” was the reply

Most of us would have dismissed the buyer as a nut, but the penny dropped in Pierre’s head and the world’s largest bric-a-brac market was born, e-bay.

You can’t read the label when you are sitting inside the jar ~ Anon

Taking Luck

It is one thing to realise that you have an opportunity in front of you; it is another thing altogether to take it.

5.  The Ends Justifies the Means

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve, but don’t get too hung up about how you want it to happen.

If you are looking for a boyfriend, and your checklist states that he needs to be a tall, dark, handsome non smoker who owns a Porsche and likes cats then you will always overlook Bob in accounts, and Bob might turn out to be a great guy.

You can miss opportunities by being too rigid.

6.  Take the Chance

Try out the opportunities that present themselves.

I have an iPad, a 3-year-old daughter and a mother in law.  The other day I locked them in a room together for experimental purposes (not strictly true, but I should have).

Within 10 minutes my daughter was flicking across screens, opening aps, doing jigsaws and watching Mickey Mouse on YouTube.  All the while, my mother in law (a respectable lady in her 70’s) watched with interest, she was clearly itching to have a go.  After a while I asked her if she would like to try.  “No thank you duck” was the response.

The consumer electronics marvel of the 21st century was turned down because she was scared she would look foolish.  Now I like my mother-in-law, but just think of all the mothers in the world who are advising their children what to try and what is a bit risky.

Try asking yourself “how bad could it be” and if the answer is genuinely “bad” then work out a back out plan before you try.  And then dive in.  Otherwise you will never know.

Try everything once, except morris dancing and incest ~ My Mother

7.  Get Good at Failure

Not everything you try will work, learn from the experience.

2 days after it’s grand opening in 2000 the Millennium Bridge across the Thames had to be closed because it wobbled in a rather disconcerting way.  The bridge (which cost £18.2m) was subsequently closed for 2 years until it was repaired and deemed “safe”.  By most people’s standards it was a big failure.

The engineering company behind it, Arup, turned it into a success.  They worked out what went wrong with the design, published their findings and then won new work off the back of it.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing ~ John Powell

Legal Disclosure

The information given in this post will certainly generate “luck”.  Readers should however be aware that they follow this advice at their own risk.  www.SquawkPoint.com cannot be held responsible for the unleashing of “bad luck”.

Bad luck should be reversed at the first possible opportunity.

Always ensure you have a responsible adult with you.


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  1. Hello James

    Great point, we can either wait for the luck to fall upon us or we can give it a helping hand. I refer to this as ’tilting the table’ in our favour.

    Having graduated as physicist I like the scientific approach to luck. Which includes your points: an intense curiousity, the willingness to boldly go where no man has gone before, experimentation, connecting with others in similar and tangential fields, homing on the anamolies. I particularly like the last one – looking at anamolies as doors to other worlds rather than simply exceptions.

    Wishing you the very best.

  2. Hi James,
    Somebody once asked me….do you know the difference between a ‘Big Shot’ and a ‘Little Shot’? I said No, I didn’t. He said….a Big Shot keeps taking shots!



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