Chris Croft's Personal Blog

January 6, 2011

There’s no such thing as luck

Filed under: Assertiveness, Happiness — chriscroft @ 10:10 pm

There’s no such thing as luck – only chance and how you deal with it

Have you noticed how some people always seem to be unlucky (why does it always seem to happen to them?), while others just ARE lucky? How do they do it?

There are several views on this

One is that we get random amounts of good and bad luck. Leaving aside large tragic or life-changing events (and in fact the research shows that even people who win the lottery return to their previous level of happiness within a year, and people who lose a limb also return to their previous level of happiness after several years – which is pretty amazing) most of use get dealt lots of small cards by life every day, and some good and some are bad. Do we focus on the good or the bad? Are we knocked sideways by the bad ones and then we don’t notice or take the good opportunities? Again, the answer is to say in your head “OK, I’ll learn from that and be stronger for next time”. Difficult, but worth doing.

Another view is that you get what you think about, so if you expect things to go badly they are more likely to. Certainly when you meet a new person they pick up on your body language, negative or positive, instantly. So you should always make an effort to expect things to go well. In fact your life scripts will be strengthened by each occasion that they come true, so once you are in a good “Things always work out for me” or a bad “I’m always unlucky” circle it will tend to self perpetuate. Breaking out can be difficult, and has to be done by positive self talk (“fake it till you make it”) but if you can do this it will change your life.

Now I know that there are people who, perhaps by chance, have been dealt lots of bad cards in a row, through no fault of yours. But the question then is, what are you going to do about it? Can you still take some control of your future and make it better than the recent past. I hope so!

Hmm – do I really believe this?
Well, sort of.

There is luck in which cards we get dealt, but it’s up to us how we respond. Do we only notice the bad ones? Do we let the bad ones knock us sideways, while failing to take up the opportunities offered by the good ones?

Then there’s the fact that we influence the cards we get. Most situations involving other people are affected by our behaviour. And there’s the weird but possible effect that what we focus on is more likely to happen. Our fears which we brood upon, and our goals that we focus upon, are more likely to happen. I don’t know how it works but I have found this to be true many times.

Of course there are people who are dealt one really big bad card (death of relatives, disablement, etc) and it’s clearly not their fault, but this is rare. For the vast majority of people there is a mix of good and bad cards, and it’s how you respond the them. By the way, some people react to even the huge bad events by fighting back. Many successful entrepreneurs started out with nothing or have had traumatic events earlier in their lives, and it seems to actually be the source of their strength. Don’t ever try to tell them they’re lucky!

People who have large luck events in their life tend to return to type quite fast. A happiness survey that I say had found that people who win the lottery are back at their previous level of happiness within a year, and, perhaps more surprisingly, people who lose a limb also return to their previous level of happiness within a year. So perhaps even the rare and large luck events don’t have as much effect as we might think.

The famous golfer Gary Player told people that the more he practised the luckier he got.
While not in that league, it annoys me when people say I’m lucky to be able to play the sax and to be in a band. It’s not luck! I’ve been learning it for 35 years, and the band has been practising for ten! Working out a new song, finding another bass player, getting every gig, it all takes work, and it’s not luck.

But what about David Beckham, Johnny Wilkinson, etc, aren’t they lucky to have been born with such talent? Well, sort of, but a) there are others with the talent who haven’t used it, and b) these people turn the talent into skill by A LOT of practising – endless kicking of balls since they were kids.

And going back to me and my sax, I don’t have much talent at all but I can get to 80% of a talented person by hard work. I’ll never be world class, but I can be good enough to have fun in a band, and so can anyone who is prepared to do the work.

It’s not about luck, and lack of luck cannot be used as an excuse for laziness. Do the work!


1 Comment »

  1. Gary Player was not the first. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) said “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

    Comment by Andy Chisholm — January 7, 2011 @ 9:04 am

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