“Who Is Lucky and Who Is Not?
In a book referenced by Sherwood called The Luck Factor, the author , Richard Weisman sets out to show why certain people are luckier than others. Or as he puts it, “Why Good Things Always Happen to the Same People”.
He finds that it comes down to a relatively few things for good luck. The lucky ones are those who are not too busy concentrating on the little things that they miss the big things. They are those who, even when they are doing one job, are still open to other opportunities.
If you are too narrowly focused in your life, you miss both opportunities and threats. We’ve seen this again and again with those who focus on their careers or the little things of their lives while blind to the big picture.
It is as if, staying at a resort, you concentrate on who the other guests are, where they come from, what they do; or the gossip you pick up about people you’ll never meet again.
Instead of this, the lucky ones are those who keep their eyes on the big picture: for
instance the strange movements of the sea which give warning of a tsunami.
The lucky ones are those who, when they are driving, are always thinking of what
unforeseen things can happen: the other driver who runs through a red light, or the person in front of you who suddenly stops.
“Luck is a state of mind”, writes Sherwood, “a way of thinking and behaving”.
Lucky people have good gut instincts or hunches and choose to follow them. The unlucky often ignore their gut instincts or intuitions and let themselves be talked into doing something else.
Lucky people have a special ability to turn bad luck into good fortune. They react to disrupting changes forced upon them as if it is a change they desired.
This struck a chord with me. It is not in the book, but another way of saying this is to quote one of the wisest men in all history, the Greek Epictetus, who was born a slave with a crippled leg and ended his life a free man, respected and thriving until he was 85…this at a time when to live with your wits about you until that age was a very rare thing.
In his Handbook (Encheiridion) Epictetus gives the following advice, and it may be the best advice I’ve ever seen:
Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.
(Incidentally, former Admiral Stockdale, who survived as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before becoming Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1992 election, says that the thoughts of Epictetus got him through that ordeal better than anything else.)
Those who can react to changes as if they were changes that they desired are so far ahead of the rest, certainly when it comes to investments, but the lesson goes for life in general.
Lucky people can easily imagine how much worse things might easily have been. Unlucky people fixate on how bad things have been for them.
You are standing in line at the bank. A gunman comes in, and fires just one shot that hits you in the arm.
Do you think “I’m lucky I did not die.”? You are lucky.
Do you think “A bullet in the arm is bad luck, plain and simple”? You are unlucky.”
The Weber Global Opportunities Report Apr-09