I have always been curious about why some people effortlessly attract good luck while for others, good luck always seems to dangle just out of reach.
Have you heard the saying ‘the harder I work the luckier I get’? Do you think that’s true? Through decades of research, I’ve reached some conclusions about work and luck but first I’d like to share three different stories about how people approached luck in their everyday life.
My first encounter with someone who had a clear view on attracting good luck happened at a friend’s birthday drinks. I ended up chatting to a girl called Christie, who told me she was convincedone day she would win the lottery. When I met her, there was a particularly big lottery prize that week so I asked whether she would she had bought tickets? Christie looked at me a little strangely and confessed she had never bought a lottery ticket. In her life.
“‘But if you know you’re going to win, why wouldn’t you buy a ticket when there’s a big prize?” I asked. Christie shrugged. “I know I’m going to win. When I feel like it, I’ll buy a ticket.” This made no sense to me, but I thought it was an interesting approach.
A different story about luck found me when I was researching for my book ‘Happy Children – Secrets of how they think’. I remember one evening I was coming home from work and it was cold and miserable. A few stops after I got on the bus, I noticed a woman and her daughter waiting to get on my bus, waiting patiently at the next stop. The mother looked she had finished working in an office, carrying a briefcase and her little girl was about 9 or 10, dressed in school uniform. The mother got on first and then the little girl scrambled up after her. The bus started again with a big jolt and the little girl was thrown completely off balance but just managed to reach out a hand and grab hold of the railing. She looked pretty scared but in the next instant her face shone with joy. She turned to her mother and said “How lucky I am! I nearly fell but I didn’t!”
I remember thinking Wow! This little girl managed to find herself ‘lucky’ to have avoided something rather than blaming the situation for feeling scared.
The final story about the connection between luck and hard work came to me through a friend of mine. Simon was a very senior IT architect, working for several successful entrepreneurs. Simon became very good friends with one entrepreneur who launched a very successful .com business and is now a household name. Simon kept in touch with him through lunches and dinners and when I mentioned to Simon I was writing an article about luck, he told me that the .com owner was incredibly lucky. I said I understood the entrepreneur spent a long time building the business and took an enormous risk but then became very successful. Simon responded “Sure, he has created this amazing business, yes he had to work really hard, he married his childhood sweetheart, they’re blissfully happy, they have three kids but then he just keeps getting luckier.
Simon told me that this entrepreneur had a country property his family used on the weekend. When the entrepreneur was there, he always chatted to his closest neighbour who was an older guy, single and a little lonely. After several years, the neighbour died and unexpectedly left the entrepreneur his entire estate which was worth nearly ten million dollars. When Simon heard about the inheritance from his entrepreneur friend, Simon congratulated him about how lucky he was. The entrepreneur said, “Yeah, but I really don’t understand it. Perhaps I did something really great in a previous life”.
When I heard this story about the lucky entrepreneur and his possible past life, I wondered if that was the answer? Is our luck determined by what we did or didn’t do in a previous life or some other random event? Or is luck always within our control, like choosing to be kind to a neighbour?
Throughout my life when I had periods of horrible luck, like being diagnosed with cancer and losing my career due to other random catastrophes, I decided that luck, like life, is a marathon. You get lucky at various points throughout your life but it’s like training for a marathon. Luck strikes along the way of hard work combined with being the best possible person you can be while you’re getting other stuff done. The most important thing is to keep going.
One thing I do know about luck is you must take action. To be lucky you step out, you buy the lottery ticket, you keep working and you never stop feeling as though you are the luckiest person in the world.
Even before it happens.