How to Have Good Luck

December 22, 2010

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting.” – The Buddha

Among my friends, I’m pretty well-known for how things always seem to work out for me: new ventures that pay off, opportunities that seem to just fall in my lap, being in the right place at the right time.  In short, I’m famous for my good luck.  That’s great for me, but how does it affect you?

Luck, perhaps more than any other quality, is perceived, by its very nature, as being beyond our control.  Fortunately, though, luck is a learnable skill.  Like anything else, once you understand the way it works, you can improve your luck quickly and consistently.  Here are five easy steps that you can take to get your luck on track:

Be optimistic. If you assume the worst, you close yourself off to opportunities.  Optimism is critical because it will keep you dedicated, keep you working hard, and most importantly, keep you open to new opportunities.

Be an active listener. Luck is about taking advantage of the opportunities around you, and to do that, you first have to recognize the opportunities for what they are.  Listen when people talk to you; give them your full attention and remember their names.  This kind of listening will both keep you alert for opportunities and show the person that you are interested and value their time and ideas.  When you have a new idea or opportunity, you offer it to the people who you know will value it, right?  So does everyone else.  Be the kind of person that others want to offer opportunities to.

Be ready to say yes. Be confident.  Be flexible.  Having an opportunity offered to you is pretty useless if you can’t say yes to it.  ‘Nough said.

Be prepared. Know your skills, and be able to quickly assess your ability to contribute to whatever’s being offered.  Be confident but realistic – people will quickly stop involving you if you promise more than you can deliver.  Be a jack of all trades and use the 80/20 principle to acquire necessary or useful skills up to, but not past, the point of diminishing marginal returns.  Luck comes from seeing the connections, networking, and using a broad range of skills to take advantage of what’s offered, not from pursuing any one thing at the expense of others.

Get comfortable with risk. Big luck comes from big risk.  Start by taking small risks in your everyday life and build your comfort level with the notion of risk-taking until you can  dive in to new things without excess worry.  Let little bad things happen if it means accomplishing big good things.  A little perspective goes a long way.

In my experience, this is all that’s necessary to make luck happen.  For more on the same topic, check out Leo Babauta’s article on the same topic.

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Feedback: How have you increased your luck?  What are your tips for making the most of the opportunities around you?

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