Luck is an interesting concept. By definition it’s the success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions. Luck itself is this intangible yet incredibly important part of life. At the most extreme ends of the scale luck can be responsible for the best and worst moments life can throw at us.
For example, it was lucky that I looked up at the exact moment I did, way back in 2005, to see a guy, caressing the nipples of a wooden statue on the wall of the pub I was at. He caught me laughing at him and we ended up moving to their table… little did I know he would be the father of my children in some 10 years time.
One of my favourite podcasts, How I built this by Guy Raz, is about entrepreneurs and their journeys to success. At the end of each interview Guy asks the same question, was it luck or hard work that got the interviewee where they are today. Most people have a 50/50 split or a 70/30 but no one (as far as I’ve heard) has exclusively said that hard work alone was responsible for their success.
I find this incredibly interesting and humbling that something that’s defined as being out of our control can be such a major contributor to the success (or failure) of a business or an idea. As a business owner it's somewhat scary to think that this uncontrollable event can arrive at any time and disrupt things for better or worse but the reality is that without luck we could all be working our arses off in a vacuum.
Matt had spent years developing our prefab building system in a vacuum. We didn’t have any customers and we were doing a lot of R&D to get the design right. Our first job was a total doozy and then the pandemic hit. The complete collapse of everything we were doing in conjunction with everyone working from home led to the launch of TinyOffice. In this case bad luck turned to good luck. Without the pandemic we never would’ve pivoted to building studios and that is now the core of our business.
We did of course have all the hard work leading up to the luck part, and there were many moments of both good and bad luck in between but as luck would have it, the pandemic actually did something good for us. Only in that instance though, everything else about the pandemic has been bull shit.
“Chance favours the prepared mind.“ – Louis Pasteur
With luck being such an important part of success, it makes sense to up the odds of encountering it. In psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor he identifies four basic principles that lucky people use to create good fortune in their lives:
Maximise your chance opportunities.
It's not just about being in the right place at the right time, it's about being in the right frame of mind as well. Wiseman conducted an experiment with a self diagnosed ‘lucky’ and 'unlucky’ person who were each asked to enter a cafe and await further instruction.
The idea was to present the same opportunities and see how they react - this included leaving a five-pound note on the floor.
The ‘lucky’ person sore the money, picked it up and sat down next to a person waiting for their coffee order (who was an actor part of the experiment). They struck up a conversation and even offered to buy them a coffee. Their report on the experience was positive, they found some money and had a really interesting conversation with a stranger.
The ‘unlucky’ person stepped over the money on the floor, not noticing it, and sat next to the person waiting for the coffee without talking to them. They later described their experience as uneventful.
Same situation, very different experience. We need to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities.
Trust your intuition and gut feeling, especially when you’ve had some experience.
Our unconscious mind is very good at noticing patterns and using past experience to inform present situations. We need to trust our instincts more and draw on our experience to help gauge the likelihood of success.
Expect to be lucky
You are more likely to encounter opportunities if you expect to encounter more opportunities! This is a way of seeing the world. The reverse is true in that if you expect to find problems, that is all you’ll see. Please expect to be lucky!! Because you are right? You’re here reading this blog, on a computer or smartphone, probably on a comfy chair or couch, in a temperature controlled room… I could go on but you get the point. We are lucky just to be here!
Turn even the bad luck into good luck
The one thing I can guarantee is that nothing lasts forever. Luck will run out and shit will hit the fan! We can’t control this but we can control how we view and interpret these situations. It's good news or a good story. We are here to win or learn. If you consider everything that happens as a learning opportunity then there is no bad luck! TinyOffice is the perfect example of turning the bad into good.
I remember being a teenager in particular and thinking people were soooo lucky. People who had things that I wanted, looks, height, speed, I thought they were lucky to have them and perhaps they were but the reality is that luck is what we make of it. We can spend forever looking at others, blaming them for our bad luck or misfortune or you can flip the switch and appreciate how lucky we already are and keep looking for those opportunities that are all around us, all the time!