Catalyst recently covered a story of someone who’s been studying “luck” for the last 10 years, and has identified some behaviours which differentiate “lucky” people from unlucky ones (article). Here’s my take on the four main principles:
- Identify opportunities: The Red ball Passes is a good example of this. If you want to actually do the experiment you have to go to the link and count the number of red ball passes, and only the red ball. Don’t read any further because the answer is coming up... Done? OK. The trick is that there’s a boy who walks in holding a sign. I don’t know what the sign says because the quality of the video is so crap, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that if you were concentrating on the ball counting you wouldn’t have noticed the boy and the sign. Basically, lucky people are more relaxed and concentrate less, finding fewer opportunities, whereas unlucky people have anxiety and suffer from tunnel vision, missing important observations. There’s another video of this but with a gorilla instead of a little boy. The important thing is, neither the gorilla nor the boy are subtle or quick. They really take their time hanging around. I missed the gorilla and I was amazed how long and obvious he was.
- Open Body Language: This was mentioned in passing during the story, and I’m not sure which of the tenets it referred to, but I guess it should be mentioned here. Basically, people who were luckier smiled a lot more and had more open body language. I guess this is tied to the ability to make better opportunities for yourself.
- Intuition: People who were lucky were consistently good at letting their sub-conscious do the work for them. Basically, if you notice that all asians are bad drivers, you won’t ask get in a cab with an asian driver.
- Positive Re-inforcement: Lucky people believe they’re lucky. If you give a dude a puzzle to solve and tell him that it’s either easy or hard, people who think they’re lucky will try solving it for hours, believing it’s easy. People who are unlucky will give up after a minute or so, believing they got the hard puzzle.
- Resilient Attitude: This seems like a similar point to the previous one, but the previous one is concerned with your actions, and this one is concerned with your attitudes. Given the same set of circumstances, lucky people believe they’ve gotten good luck (or can turn their bad luck around), where unlucky people think they’ve gotten bad luck.
- Tunnel vision: Anxiety and tunnel vision are useful tools. That’s why we’ve evolved with them. People who have tunnel vision tend to be able to concentrate on tasks for a long time, whereas others are a little less likely to stay put.
- Prejudice: People who listen to their intuition are often pigs. They’ll say quite racist or sexist things at the drop of a hat (or perhaps, nasty things about people who listen to their intuition). It’s a fine line between using your intuition to help you or just being prejudiced.
- Douchebag Syndrome: Being fucking happy all the fucking time makes you look like a douche. People will like you for a while then you’ll start to shit them.
- Stupidity: You should know when to give up on something. “Lucky” people tend to be bull-headed.
The idea is to keep a good balance in your system.