The Luck Factor: Why Some People Are Lucker Than Others and How You Can Become One of Them

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  1. Max Gunther walks us through the nature of luck, how we can better manage it and therefore improve our luck.
Key Takeaways
  1. Luck – “It blunders in and out of our lives, unbidden, unexpected, sometimes welcome and sometimes not. It plays a role in all our affairs, often the commanding role. No matter how carefully you design your life, you cannot know how that design will be changed by the working of random events. You can only know the events will occur.
  2. Luck consists of events that influence your life but are not of your making
  3. It will be useful to take a brief look at this reluctance. You must clear it out of your way before you can begin the process of changing your luck.
  4. The 13 techniques to increasing your luck include:
    1. Making the Luck/Planning Distinction
    2. Finding the Fast Flow
    3. Risk Spooning
    4. Run Cutting
    5. Luck Selection
    6. The Zigzag Path
    7. Constructive Supernaturalism
    8. Worst-Case Analysis
    9. The Closed Mouth
    10. Recognizing a Nonlesson
    11. Accepting an Unfair Universe
    12. The Juggling Act
    13. Destiny Pairing
What I got out of it
  1. A lot of Gunther’s examples seem pretty weak but his point is well taken – understand when and how much of a role luck plays and be aware of it. Quick read with some practical techniques that you can apply to your daily life

Read The Luck Factor

The First Technique: Making the Luck/Planning Distinction

  • You must stay keenly aware of the role luck plays in your life.
  • Never confuse luck with planning. The loser’s problem lies in the inability to make the crucial distinction between planning and luck.
  • The trick is to know what kind of situation you are in at any given time. Can you rely on your own or others’ planning, or will the outcome be determined by luck?
  • The first step in controlling your luck is to recognize that it exists.

The Second Technique: Finding the Fast Flow

  • The commandment of the Second Technique is: Go where events flow fastest. Surround yourself with a churning mass of people and things happening.
  • The lucky personality gets to know everybody in sight: the rich and the poor, the famous the humble, the sociable and even the friendless and the cranky.

The Third Technique: Risk Spooning

  • There are two ways to be an almost sure loser in life. One is to take goofy risks; that is, risks that are out of proportion to the rewards being sought. And the other is to take no risks at all.

The Fourth Technique: Run Cutting

  • Don’t push your luck
  • Always assume the run is going to be short. Never try to ride a run to its very peak. Don’t push your luck.
  • We hear more about big wins than about the vastly more common little wins.
  • The consistently lucky are the run cutters.

The Fifth Technique: Luck Selection

  • Cut your losses
  • One reason why luck selection is so difficult for most people is that it almost always involves the need to abandon part of an investment.
  • Another reason why luck selection is difficult for most is that it often requires a painful confession: “I was wrong.”
  • Avoid unfounded optimism.
  • Lucky people, as a breed, are able to live with the knowledge that some decisions will turn out wrong.

The Sixth Technique: The Zigzag Path

  • Most lucky men and women, on the whole are not straight-line strugglers. They not only permit themselves to be distracted, they invite distraction. Their lives are not straight lines but zigzags.
  • Long-range plans aren’t actually harmful, but it is important not to take them seriously.
  • Avoid wailing yourself into a category

The Seventh Technique: Constructive Supernaturalism

  • Supernaturalism is defined as any belief in an unseen spirit, force, or agency whose existence hasn’t been proved to everybody’s satisfaction.
  • The connection in my opinion is that a supernatural belief, even a trivial and humorous one, helps people get lucky by helping them make otherwise impossible choices.
  • “A superstition won’t do you any harm as long as you don’t use it as a substitute for thinking.”

The Eighth Technique: Worst-Case Analysis

  • Optimism means expecting the best, but good luck involves knowing how you will handle the worst.
  • What is the worst possible outcome? Or if there are two or more ‘worst’ outcomes, what are they? How can it go wrongest? And if the worst does happen, what will I do to save myself?”

The Ninth Technique: The Closed Mouth

  • The best strategy would seem to be one of maximum flexibility: keeping ourselves free to deal with those unknowable events in whatever ways seem appropriate at the time.
  • The trouble with too much talk is that it can constrict that valuable freedom and flexibility.
  • The lesson of this Ninth Technique is that the luckiest people guard against unnecessary talk.
  • They are particularly careful when talking of subjects that have great personal importance to them. They reveal no more of their thinking than they have to. They don’t lock themselves into positions where there is no good reason to do so.
  • By avoiding excessive communication, lucky men and women are freed of the need to explain and justify actions to other people.

The Tenth Technique: Recognizing a Nonlesson

  • There are experiences in life that seem to be lessons but aren’t. A noteworthy trait of the lucky is that they know what they can’t learn anything from. Nonlessons often grow out of unwarranted generalizations.
  • If one would be lucky, one must know what one can’t learn anything from.

The Eleventh Technique: Accepting an Unfair Universe

  • The fact is that fairness is a human concept. The rest of the universe knows nothing of it.
  • The universe has no interest in what you deserve.

The Twelfth Technique: The Juggling Act

  • Lucky people always seem to have many ventures going on at the same time.

The Thirteenth Technique: Destiny Pairing

  • Only a person who alters your luck over a long term may be called a destiny partner.

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