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Why and How to Create Your Own Luck
Most that you call "lucky" made their own
Luck, the trite household word that we all use all the time and the mysterious power that we are always vying for — “You are such a lucky duck”, “Wish I were that lucky”, “Better luck next time”, “Wish me luck” etc.
It’s also quite a handy word I must say. Something goes wrong, no worries, just blame it on your ill luck. Someone achieves something, it’s of course due to their good luck, isn’t it?
It feels good, doesn’t it? Attributing things to luck or mere chance. You can’t control your luck so you aren’t to blame, right?
Wrong. You can create your own luck.
Sure, some luck is random and out of your control but not all of it. Something like winning a million-dollar lottery might be sheer luck but building a million-dollar net worth definitely isn’t.
In fact, things that come out of sheer luck don’t even last long. Most lottery winners go broke within just a few years.
“Winning a million-dollar lottery might be sheer luck but building a million-dollar net worth definitely isn’t.”
External luck is random and that’s precisely why you shouldn’t care too much about it. But luck that you build? It is in your control and you will never run out of it.
In this post, I want to share a few thoughts and ideas on how to create your own luck.
Recognize and Grab Opportunities
Opportunities are always coming our way but we are hyperopic when it comes to them. We fail to recognize them when they are close at hand but see them far too clearly and express regret when they are far away.
Sometimes, we recognize opportunities but refuse to grab them as they require effort and we are lazy.
“Oppurtunity is missed by most people as it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” — Thomas Alva Edison
When the stock market crashed due to the onset of the pandemic, I noticed an opportunity. I was a total beginner and had only the vaguest idea about stocks, investing, etc. But the opportunity was far too lucrative for me to ignore it.
Over the next few days, I aggressively learned as much as I could and dived right in. I bought and held a few stocks of good companies whose prices had fallen like crazy.
“My friends called it luck. Yes, it was luck — luck that I made by grabbing an excellent opportunity.”
Over the next 2 or 3 months, the markets recovered substantially and I had made more than 50% in profits. Yes, in less than 3 months. My friends called it luck. Yes, it was luck — luck that I made by grabbing an excellent opportunity.
Opportunities are reservoirs of pure solid luck. Identifying and grabbing them can greatly enrich your vault of luck. If a window of opportunity opens up, don’t roll down the shade.
Risk is one thing that we squirm away from. We like to play it safe. Risks are only for the reckless or foolhardy right?
Wrong. Diving into a deep pool of water without knowing how to swim is reckless, doing the same when you are an experienced diver is not.
You are still taking a risk in the latter, but it's “calculated” and based on prior experience and knowledge.
It’s all about the probability
The very definition of risk is a lack of certainty. But you can always roughly calculate and maximize the probability of success or how likely you are to succeed.
In the diving example, can you drown and die in both cases? Of course yes but you are much more likely to drown in the former case than the latter.
Safety is an illusion
We like to think we are safe but we never are. You can get hit by a car even when “safely” walking on the pavement. A meteor can strike the earth in the exact spot your house is in. The bank you have a savings account in might go bankrupt.
Can you say for certain that these things cannot happen? No, you can’t. It’s just that the probability of these things happening is so low that it’s negligible.
“Anything can go away. There’s no such thing as safety and security. You can do things that give you the illusion of safety but there’s really no such thing.” — Will Smith
Our life is filled with risks. We are never truly safe and that’s okay. The point I want to drive home is that we are always taking risks and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t shy away from taking risks.
The risk-reward ratio
When we take risks, we expect a reward. Greater the risk, the greater the probable reward or outcome in most cases. The risk-reward ratio isn’t a thing limited to just financial markets, it applies to everything in life.
When would you want to take a risk? — Only when the expected reward is lucrative enough to make the risk worth taking or when the risk-reward ratio is low.
“Not every risk you take will work in your favor but most will and that’s enough.”
Risking losing $1000 dollars for a return of a meager $50–100 dollars is plain foolishness while for an expected return of $2000 or above would be an excellent decision.
Risks are hidden lockers of luck, some bad, some good. When you take reckless risks, you tend to open more bad lockers than good but with calculated risks, you will open more good lockers than bad.
Take risks but before taking them, carefully calculate or estimate the probable outcome based on prior experience or knowledge.
Not every risk you take will work in your favor but most will and that’s enough.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk” — Mark Zuckerburg
Make the Most Out of Failure
We just detest failure, don’t we? Since our birth, we have been indoctrinated to hate and avoid failure by society, schools, and media. So when we fail, we get disappointed, blame it on ill luck, give up and move on.
But failure is an essential and unavoidable part of achieving success. Every failure is an opportunity to try again but more intelligently.
You can and need to leverage failure to achieve success. When you use every failure to strengthen your own luck, no external “ill luck” will be able to endure against your own luck for too long.
Understand that failure is an integral part of success as Winston Churchill has rightly said,
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”
Neither be afraid of failure nor let it discourage you from trying. Adopt a growth mindset. Dissect every failure to learn as much as possible from it. Critically analyze feedback, learn from constructive criticism, and look for the positives in destructive criticism.
Explore and Improve Your Odds
When you explore, you tend to expose yourself more to external luck and improve your odds. I like to think of this in terms of something that I call the “receiving circle of luck”.
When you don’t explore, your receiving circle is merely a dot but as you meet new people, try new things, and explore, your circle keeps expanding. The larger the circle, the better your odds of being lucky.
“Life has a funny way of interlinking seemingly irrelevant, random, and unrelated things.”
It was thanks to a chance acquaintance that I happened to join a gym and discover one of the passions of my life — lifting weights. A simple truth and dare game led to my first relationship. A chance acquaintance turned into one of my closest friends. A fun wager made me lose weight and change my life.
Life has a funny way of interlinking seemingly irrelevant, random, and unrelated things. There’s this quote by J.D Stroube that I love,
“A complete stranger has the capacity to alter the life of another irrevocably. Life is a chain reaction of individuals colliding with others and influencing their lives without realizing it. This domino effect has the power to change the course of the world.”
Explore people, places, things, etc. Who knows, you might meet the love of your life or find a passion you never knew you loved.
Never Stop Learning
Learning is a lifelong process and you can never learn enough. It’s like opening a door to find two and opening those two to find four and so on. As Aristotle famously said,
“The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know”
Learn from everything and everywhere
Every experience, every mistake you make, every failure, every person you meet, every book you read, etc. can teach you something in life.
You just need to have a keen will to learn and look at the world through the looking glass of humbleness.
But how is learning related to creating luck you ask?
The positive cycle of learning that leads to a never-ending stream of luck
The more you learn, the sharper your eye for spotting opportunities gets, the better you get at calculating risks, and the more you tend to explore. All these things contribute to further learning and the cycle goes on.
So learning positively influences the very things that we talked about earlier to create luck. And these things influence learning in turn.
So you have an inexhaustible stream of luck to tap from.
You Are Lucky
Research shows that the simple affirmation, “I am lucky” can work wonders and actually boost your luck.
You must be wondering how merely believing something can turn it into a tangible reality, right? — It’s the sheer power of thinking.
The self-fulfilling prophecy
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a sociological term for a belief or prediction that you hold and becomes true for the precise reason that you held it.
“So even when externalluck doesn’t favor you as much, the luck that you create makes up for it.”
An excellent example is the placebo effect where patients sometimes show positive signs of recovery when they are told that they will be given real treatment but are given “fake” or “effectless” treatment.
Luck is a self-fulfilling prophecy
When you strongly believe you are lucky, you tend to take more risks, explore more, not let failure dissuade you, and not blame your “ill luck” if things go wrong.
So even when external luck doesn’t favor you as much, the luck that you create makes up for it.
You are essential“tricking” yourself into becoming lucky by believing you are. Isn’t that amazing?
“You become what you believe, not what you think or what you want” — Oprah Winfrey
Luck isn’t a mysterious thing that is completely out of your control. You can make your own luck and attract external luck by:
Recognizing and grabbing opportunities. When you notice an opportunity, grab it even if you think that you can’t do it or aren’t good enough. You can learn and become “good enough” along the way.
Taking calculated risks. Don’t hesitate to take risks as safety is an illusion and our life is filled with risks. Before taking a risk, carefully calculate and assess the risk based on the probable outcome, risk-reward ratio, etc.
Making the most out of failure. Failure is an integral part of achieving success. Treat every failure as an opportunity to try again but more intelligently and learn as much as you can from it.
Exploring and improving your odds. Life is an unpredictable chain reaction of different individuals and things affecting each other. By exploring new people and new things, you can improve your odds.
Always learning. Be humble and have a keen will to learn. Learn from your mistakes, failures, experiences, people you meet, etc.
Believing that you are lucky. Strongly believe that you are lucky and you will be as luck is a self-fulfilling prophecy.