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How to be Lucky

Lucky-DiceA few posts back I introduced the concept of ‘luck’ as a principle of entrepreneurship but also reflected that in my experience that my own ‘luck’ as a blogger has in part arisen out of decisions I’ve made.

I’m fascinated by the idea of people making their own luck – or creating a lifestyle that perhaps enhances their luckiness and thought that in this post I’d unpack 13 factors that I’ve seen in my own experience and the stories of others that might come into play when it comes to luck.

1. Put yourself out thereWarning, Tangent Ahead – I met a guy at a conference a few weeks back – a nice guy, a smart guy, a reasonably good looking guy…. and a lonely guy. We were having a beer and the conversation got around to ‘girls’. I was talking about my partner ‘V’ and he was lamenting (four beers later) that he couldn’t seem to meet girls. Hi comment: ‘There are no good chicks left’. To cut a long (and slightly slurred) conversation short I asked him a few questions that basically identified that he never puts himself in a position where he ever meets ‘chicks’. His life consists of work (in a male dominated workplace), playing football (in an all male team), playing video games (alone at home) and watching TV (sports – with mates or alone). Even at the conference he was hanging out with ‘the boys’. In short this ‘nice, smart, reasonably good looking, lonely guy was not putting himself in a position for a chance meeting with that ‘chick’ he was looking for to happen.

As I reflect upon the ‘lucky relationships’ that I’ve started in the last year in my business I would say that the main reason that every one of them happened was because I put myself in a position where it could happen. I’m a pretty shy guy and don’t always find it easy to meet people – but I know that the more you put yourself out there and present yourself as an approachable and contactable person the more people will approach and contact you. The more people approach and contact you the greater the chance of that lucky relationship that could emerge into something more profitable. So put yourself out there – present yourself as someone who is interested in meeting people and give them a way to contact you and you’re one step closer to a lucky encounter.

2. Know what You Want – One of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve had over the last couple of years was to think about the future and create some goals and objectives. I’ve written pretty extensively about strategy as it relates to blogging in recent months but I’d widen some of those concepts to ‘life’ also. You see when you know what you want and where you would like to be in the future – if an opportunity presents itself to you you are in a position to judge pretty quickly if its a good one or not.

Part of being lucky is knowing which opportunities to take as they present themselves to you. Goals and objectives will give you a filter to run the opportunities through.

3. Ensure Others know what You Want - Knowing what YOU want is important, but you can increase the chances of opportunities coming along that fit with your objectives when others know what you want and send opportunities your way.

Tangent Time – When I was young I collected Football Cards (cards with Australian Rules Football players on them that came with terrible bubble gum). My objectives was to collect the whole Carlton team (go Blues!) each year. Most of the team were easy to collect but every year there were always one or two elusive players (the card makers knew what they were doing) that were difficult to get. However I made sure my whole class knew that I was in the market for Carlton players – and would make a point of telling people which cards I still needed. As a result when one of them was trading cards with someone else in the school (or outside of school) and they saw a card I wanted they would generally know that and let me know of the opportunity to trade. I got the full set every year pretty easily – not because of my own connections – but because others in my social network knew what I wanted and sent anything that fitted with it my way.

The same is true in business (and life). Be clear of what you want and find ways to communicate it to those around you and step back and let nature take it’s course.

4.Know Your Stuff – It’s amazing what opportunities are served up to people who are perceived experts in a field. One of the things I love about blogging is the way that it gives ordinary people a voice on topics that they’d love and how through just creating spaces for conversations around these topics that they can become ‘go to people’ within their niche.

I’ve experienced this many times personally in the past year here at ProBlogger. While I never present myself as ‘the expert’ on anything – this blog has demonstrated that I do know some things about certain aspects of blogging. As a result many opportunities have come my way that I’d not dreamed of before – purely because people believe I know my stuff.

5.Expect the Unexpected – Most ‘lucky’ people that I know have a real knack of spotting unexpected opportunities from a mile off. These sorts of people are not just observant (this is part of it) but also always asking themselves how what they see happening around them could potentially impact them in a positive way.

Of course being this type of person means creating space in your life to actually see what’s going on around you. Sometimes in my busiest times I wonder what amazing opportunities are passing me by simply because I don’t allow time to see them.

6. Be an Optimist - Seeing what’s going on around you is not enough on it’s own. Lots of people watch the world pass them by and are paralyzed by it because it all just seems so overwhelming. Lucky people have a knack of finding the gold specs in the grit of life.

My wife is a little like this. There’s something about ‘V’ that just seems to attract good fortune – but the more I’ve got to know her over the years the more I realize that she’s just on the look out for good fortune in life and when she sees it she grasps onto it and rides it for all it’s worth. In a very humble way ‘V’ almost seems to expect good things to happen to both herself and those around her and, almost spookily, good things do happen.

7. Be a Skeptic – Optimism should always be balanced with a healthy level of skepticism. One of the things about ‘putting yourself out there’ is that you will get approached, sometimes by a lot of people and sometimes by people with ideas that are just not good. Overdo it with the optimism and you could end up choosing the wrong opportunity and ‘luck out’.

A healthy level of skepticism (or perhaps discernment is a better word) can help to filter out the good from the bad and leave you with the true gems to go after.

8. Relax – I read somewhere (some time ago) that unlucky people are often more tense than lucky people and that anxiety disrupts ability to see and take opportunities. I’m not sure who did the study (or how) but this fits with my own experience of luck also.

While I think being single minded and focused can be a good attribute to have, too much of it can actually mean that you focus so much upon one thing that you can lose sight of the big picture and the opportunities that might exist around the edges.

9. Be Flexible – You can do all of the above and identify some great opportunities but be so enmeshed in different aspects of life that it’s impossible to maneuver to yourself into a position to take advantage of the ‘luck’ that comes your way. Being able to change directions quickly enough to ride the waves of luck that do come along from time to time is something that many businesses (and people) are unable to do.

10. Notice the Little Things - I chatted with one aspiring Web 2.0 type recently who was complaining that all the big ideas were being worked on already and that there was nothing left to do. As he talked I realized that he was talking about projects that others were doing that seemed so grand and large. I began to toss around with him where some of these ‘grand ideas’ must have come from and we came to the realization that in most cases they probably didn’t start with a massive plan or project but rather started by trying to solve a simple problem.

This is the impression I get when I read about the early stages of companies like Google. I’m pretty sure that it’s founders didn’t have the goal of organizing the world’s information (all of it) as their primary goal when they started – instead they started with a series of smaller problems (problems are potential opportunities) and issues and grew from there.

Most of what I see happening in the Web 2.0 space at the moment seems to emerge from this principle.

11. Turn Bad Luck into Good Luck – Perhaps one of the main skills that lucky people have is in dealing with bad luck when it happens (and it does happen to us all). When things go wrong, when obstacles get in our way and when it feels like time to give up – some people do in fact give up while others persist and ask ‘how can I turn my misfortune into a positive?’ Perhaps this is just another way of saying ‘be an optimist’ but I think it goes deeper.

12. Mix things up – While I’m all for establishing a rhythm or routine in one’s life (I find it helps me work better) I am very aware that one of the problems with routines is that they often lead people to become comfortable, content and safe. They also can lead to a life where ‘new things’ become uncommon. As I look back on some of the lucky things that have happened to me in the last couple of years I realize that most of them have happened as a result of exploring something new.

Routines are great – but Introduce an element of randomness into your life and you might be surprised by the chance encounters and new discoveries that you might make as the world as you know it bumps into new things.

13. Listen to your Gut – I’m a big believer in listening to my gut reactions to things. I don’t really understand why or how it happens but intuition is a fairly big part of the way I operate. For me it’s almost a spiritual thing at times and at other times it’s just a vibe or a feeling of resonating with or reacting against something that happens to me. Whatever it is I’m learning to listen to it more and more and find that when I do it often leads me in the right direction.

I’m sure I could find more things to talk about where it comes to talking about luck but 13 points seems an appropriate place to end. I’m sure others will share their own tips on how to be lucky in comments below – so feel free to add your own experiences.

photo source

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Shane says:

    What you said is perfect, and right on. I know people who are ‘lucky’ and they do not seem tense at all. But other people like myself tend to give up rather easily on certain things. Blogging is one thing that I thought I was giving up on. But it dawned on me that I have done everything on my life that I set out to do.

    1. I promised my wife I would buy her a brand new car, and I gave myself 2 years (this is when I was 21) and I did it.

    2. I told her that I would buy her a house and gave myself 5 years. I accomplished this too.

    3. I swore that I was going to break into the computer field even without a college degree. I was working in manufacturing at the time and guess what I am a network administrator now, no college degree and no certifications.

    I have done many other things that I have set out to do, and now I am making myself this promise. I swear in two years time, I will be a problogger making at least 3000/month. I know the internet changes quickly so I will have to work fast, but I will do it if it kills me. One thing that I am going to stop doing is trying to get links from more prominent bloggers. I can build this by myself. That’s how my whole life has been anyway, depend on myself and no one else (except Google and Chitika)

    Darren I tend to find the posts on the life lessons the best for me. So thanks once again.

  2. Hi,

    I found your article particularly interesting, and I agree. In todays world you virtually need to manufacture your luck.

    Somewhat related, I recently posted an an article on my blog FollowSteph.com about how you should continually challenge yourself to get better at facing new challenges. This made me think some more… The more I challenged myself, the more I was up to taking bigger and harder challenges, and hence the “luckier” I’m perceived.

    Which leads me to two of my favorite quotes:

    “I became an overnight success in 10 years”

    and from an upcoming movie:

    - “You can get what you want.”
    - “No, some people get what they want.”
    - “Those are the people who show up to get it.”

    Regards,
    Steph
    FollowSteph.com

  3. kalbzayn says:

    Is it really a good idea to have a “How to be lucky” post that has exactly 13 bullet points?

  4. Josue says:

    If you don’t mind, Darren, I’m going to add one more point, so Kalbzayn can sleep =)

    14. Be genuine and put people first

    When one is working on a goal, it is very easy to become so focused that we don’t see anything else. Instead of people, friends, coworkers and family, we see “business opportunities.”

    I’d rather go a little slower in my goal pursuit, making sure that I don’t step on anyone’s head. It is better in the long run. Who knows, sometimes life gives us bad surprises, and we may “need” those friends that we smacked down in our rising.

    Plus, there is something very special about having a complete clear consciense. You are more relaxed and people around you respect you AND love you.

    Tim Sanders (I find myself quoting him a lot lately!), one of the big guys in Yahoo, wrote a book about bizlove called: “Love Is The Killer App.” It is worth it reading. It changed my professional life =)

  5. Aaron Brazell says:

    “Is it really a good idea to have a “How to be lucky” post that has exactly 13 bullet points?”

    Haha… Good one! :-)

  6. Ma2T says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing your views :), good start about the “girls” good way to look at things in a different perspective.
    Cheers

  7. katiebird says:

    I like this topic and your points. You’re doing good today — at least for me! Thanks.

  8. brem says:

    It’s all a matter of probabilities.

  9. Jon Tillman says:

    …and I’ll add another:

    15. It’s all about the ride.

    Don’t be so focused and goal oriented that you become one of the people that Kierkegaard was talking about when he said that “most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”

    Learn to slow down, make do, and not consider yourself a failure if you are not living on Adsense revenue in a month or six months or a year. Consider yourself a success if in a year you are still writing your blog(s) and enjoying it, and then whatever else happens with it, you will still be happy.

    That brings me to my new motto: “Aim low, you need a whole lot less than you think to be happy.”

  10. I guess I’m too much of a skeptic at times. Probably 3 years ago I looked at blogging and for some reason I just dismissed it as some teenage fad, unlucky (I’m not quite sure about that word) for me.

    I’m usually one of the middle to late adopters but learning to get in early. Trusting my gut is something I’m trying to get a handle on.

    I like to think of luck as providence though, but that’s another discussion.

  11. Martin says:

    very nice articles, but overall, it’s also about luck and good timing…

  12. Darren Rowse says:

    The 13 point post was quite intentional. Well at first it wasn’t – but when I got to number 13 I thought it was quite amusing (small things amuse small minds they say) and decided it was an appropriate spot to leave it :-)

  13. March says:

    I thought this was a very inspiring post Darren. The reason being, most of us recognise the points you raised to be true. You came along and eloquently articulated a lot of things that I think a lot of people haven’t managed to put in words. I think the fact that you wrote these down and presented them well helped some of us clarify some of these ideas and be better able to harness them. Just as an aside, the image of the dice you posted with this article made me realise that luck is like being given the opportunity to roll those dice. The more chances you get to roll the dice, the more likely that your number will come up.

  14. I think your point 11 is unneeded. You cover it in #6.

    Lady Luck, as she is often called, is the bringer of both good and bad luck. I marvel at a friend of mine who is able to lose straight dice rolls 70-80% of the time. You pick up a dice and roll, he does the same. Chances are you win. If you bet on him losing, you’ll make money.

    Luck is what you make it.

  15. Declan says:

    This is a very timely post Darren.

    After being sick the past few days (my body trying to tell me something maybe?) its just what the doctor ordered.

    Keep up the good work mate!

  16. Chris Saad says:

    Hi Darren and everyone else – I have only recently discovered that Australian bloggers exist and this is the first place I have really stopped off to read!

    This post is great Darren – I have always wondered about luck in business and the way in which we can create our own luck.

    I too like the 13 points for a points about luck btw ;)

  17. Alvin says:

    16) Be good to luck and she’ll be good to you ;)

    Something I’m working on myself, but it seems the more you appreciate the good luck in your life the more that gratitute rolls itself into more good luck.

    I love this post Darren, is it a nice run-up to the upcoming lifetipper.com? I’m really looking forward to that :)

  18. Michael says:

    This post reminded me of a book I blogged about back in 2003, which I still haven’t picked up. It’s “The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles.” by Dr. Richard Wiseman

  19. Will says:

    Great post!
    I agree with you 100% that excessive levels of fear and anxiety completely get in the way of good Luck.

    To that end, I’d add a part (b) to point 8. -Learn to Meditate. It can sound a bit hokey, but it is Very Effective in letting you Relax. And if you really get good at it, it seems to open your mind up to whatever is in the ether out there. You hear that little voice a bit clearer.

    2 other points to add: 1.Sense of Humor! and 2.Self-Esteem. –almost Allowing yourself to succeed, but being ok with necessary mistakes along the way.

    Cheers!

  20. Josue says:

    Good point, Will.

    In my case, as a Christian, I find that meditating helps me put things under perspective. It forces me to stop and think, and being just myself. Otherwise, we become machines, you know what I mean?

  21. ADP says:

    Darren
    Great post on luck, agree fully. And as for it being 13 items long, well if it feels right for you, then do it. If you don’t have a problem with the number, don’t let it hold you back. It is part of intuition and trusting your gut, but it’s worth highlighting: Do your own thing.

    Perhaps you could add another to the list (except then it’d ruin the 13…)

  22. jennifer says:

    I injoyed this article. It was sent to me by an intuitive friend whom I respect.
    thanks and I look forward to reading more.

  23. jc says:

    I am really lucky, to be married with four kids to the wife I was “lucky” enough to meet. If you think luck has anything to do with it , it does not. I pursued her, worked for her, and, to this day , still do. In fact, it has taken me 16 years to be so lucky. And I am not , in fact, the good looking sort, balding, with a good sense of humor. Praise God for hard work!

  24. Mary says:

    I’ve always been a lucky person. I’ve noticed that luck happens when I give up and just let go. I wish for luck because I want to help others. I can’t force luck. Luck is free, guilt-free, free of judgment and very generous. That’s how I describe luck.

    When Bill Clinton was interviewed last night on Larry King, he talked about how a billion people had no clean water, people had no jobs, no food, no way to sustain themselves. He had a vision to change their luck with a practical plan. I’m not a political person at all, but I can’t get it out of my head that over half our world lives in misery. I’d like to use my luck to make his dream a reality. It’s following me around; this nagging realization keeps creeping in that our charmed life is not possible for most of the world, that children are dying of the simplest needs unmet.

    Bill Clinton has incredible luck; you can see that he lives in that lucky space where he and others like him can make things happen and change the world. That’s real luck. You have it too, by empowering others, your luck keeps flowing and growing.

  25. Pat Vail says:

    In answer too (Jon Tillman Says :) That brings me to my new motto: “Aim low, you need a whole lot less than you think to be happy.”
    That’s not a very impowering statement is it? It reminds me of an experience I had, I was selling an engine. At the time it had been sitting in my garage for quite a long time, so I ran an advertisement listing it at $100.00 American dollars. The phone rang off the hook, and the first guy there gave me the hundred as soon as we walked in the garage. (I guess he wanted to see it to be sure it was what I said, a 350 cubic inch Chevy engine.) He left and I spent the rest of the day answering the telephone and telling them that someone had already purchased the engine. I didn’t feel as good, as I knew that I could have gotten more than I asked how much more I will never know.
    POINT: I have heard it said, that it is better to aim too high and miss, than too aim to low and hit. If you don’t test your limits you will never know what you can achieve. And think about it, how you would justify your life one day, lying on your death bed wondering if you had lived life as well as you could have.

  26. Joe says:

    Great post! I think another good point would be to tackle problems and objectives one at a time, as taking on more then you can handle can cause stress and anxiety and you may find that you don’t get anything done at all. This is also an important thing to remember whilst following these steps, think of one thing and try too remind yourself of it a few times everyday and you will succeed

  27. entrepreneur says:

    I always remember this saying from a cat in a movie:

    “Inch by inch life is a cinch. Yard by yard life is very hard”

    It’s all in the mind. When you are relaxed, you can see many opportunities that will pass by then being stressed.

  28. Alex says:

    somebody help me? I’m 21 years old, I still no have girlfriend, and I do have bad luck with girls. I do want to get know girls when I’m friends with them, but sometimes I rush up and try to take it to the next level. If anybody has some very good advice, I just tired of being SINGLE somebody please help me!!

  29. EMS Prime says:

    I am new to blogging. I have read about every word on your blog.

    To date, this article hit home more than any I have read trying to learn to get a successful blog going.

    While I know the content very well that I am promoting, the blogging idea is new to me.

    I have set my goald, a bit of a business plan if you will, however; this article really opened my eyes to the long term goals I have ahead of me.

    I thank you for this wonderful article and all of the other wonderful articles you have on this blog.

    Lee
    EMS Prime
    emsprime.com

  30. this is great post, exactly what I wanted to say through comments in earlier post. Sooner or later luck comes to you, time is the only thing which decides which moment is written for you.

  31. riodee says:

    Good luck and bad luck happen in order to move you to your destiny.Some have more, some get less of each,but it pushes you in the direction you are suppose to end up.That is also why when you work really hard at something, and never achieve success, it is stopping you from going that direction.Luck aside, one thing I have found it that the “effort = rewards scale” doesn’t always balance out . Some receive more rewards with little effort, and others little reward with a lot of effort.Not a good example for mankind, wouldn’t it be a better world if everyone knew you only get what you work for, or you only get what you deserve. Good or bad. As I say ” effort with out equaled reward, dries up ambition”

  32. This is some great advice. Being “lucky” is much more than just “being lucky”. There are many times a negative or preoccupied person may stumble on to a situation that others would consider good luck, but if you are not aware of it, then it means nothing to you. Most of the people I have seen make it to the top in the business world, make most of their own luck, and are constantly on the look out for an opportunity. I have adapted this attitude in my real estate investing business, and my online businesses and have seen a huge difference. Good things are out there, you have to keep your eyes open.

  33. Vivek says:

    I liked it too!! But again, has been written in a manner that “reader” gets more interested in “V” than in “getting lucky”. ….No….no I am not serious. This was supposed to be a pun. :)
    Thanks for your advices.

  34. As godaddy’s founder says, “Go Out Of Your Comfort Zone, And Stay There”.

    These are great tips. If you want opportunities to come, you have to go to places where there are people, intact with them, and things will happen.

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