Whether you’re a Duck, a Coin, a Lady, a Star or a bowl of Charms, it’s safe to say that Luck comes in many forms.

The real question is, “does any of it really work and is it possible to create your own?”

Sure, there’s your iconic rabbits foot, four-leaf clover, and the ubiquitous horseshoe – all have been sold to us as a way to increase our luck but does it really work? The sports industry in particular is cloaked in this type of folklore and some of the most famous athletes have been well documented touting their pre/post game rituals. To name a few:

  • Michael Jordan. While leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships during his legendary career, the five-time MVP wore his University of North Carolina shorts under his uniform in every game. Jordan led UNC to the NCAA Championships in 1982 and believed the mesh marvels brought him luck.
  • Serena Williams. The superstar believed much of her winning ways are the result of closely followed routines such as bringing her shower sandals to the court, tying her shoelaces a specific way and bouncing the ball five times before her first serve and twice before her second.
  • Patrick Roy. Perhaps the greatest goaltender in the history of the NHL, Patrick was a firm believer in the power of superstition. Before every game, the former Montreal Canadian would skate backwards towards the net before turning around at the last second—an act he believed made the goal shrink. 

These athletes all have one thing in common, they believed in certain rituals and that these rituals could bring them good luck. The real question is: what is luck? Is it some kind of natural law? Does it exist but we can’t see it?.

The Truth About Luck

The truth is that while everything happens by cause and effect, it is all so complex we can only reliably predict so much. Yet this doesn’t stop us from trying to create and predict our own luck. We think that if we can tell what is going to happen then we will be able to act in ways to our best advantage. Many people actually use luck as an excuse to explain their failures or shortcomings (i.e.: bad luck). Luck, then, is nothing but an explanation we give to the good and bad things that happen around us and we use as a way to give meaning to these events.

I read a fascinating book on this topic when researching this article called Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty, by Dr. James Austin where he states there are actually four types of luck:

  1. The first is completely impersonal; you can’t influence it.
  2. The second is a certain [basic] level of action “stirs up the pot”, brings in random ideas that will collide and stick together in fresh combinations, allowing chance to form. You bring events together to form “happy accidents”. This favors people who try lots of new things, since they have more attempts. Think about a scientist in a lab, furiously conducting different experiments.
  3. The third is where chance presents only a faint clue, the potential opportunity exists, but it will be overlooked except by that one person uniquely equipped to observe it, visualize it conceptually, and fully grasp its significance. This type of chance is the result of your background knowledge, an old memory, an observation, or a new combination of ideas (similar to the Medici Effect).
  4. The fourth is the kind of luck that develops during a probing action which has a distinctive personal flavor. Follow your instincts and your passion. Your personal perspectives, lots of life experiences, and unique lifestyle can combine to produce this type of chance. It’s the most rare, unpredictable, form of chance.

Mr. Jefferson may have actually been on to something here. According to a recent HBR article, adopting the right attitude may be the key:

  • It starts with having the humility to be self- aware, followed by the intellectual curiosity to ask the right questions, and concluding with the belief and courage that something better is always possible (optimism)

The good news is that there are proven and practical ways to increase and create your own luck and although it may involve “some” work, it doesn’t involve being a famous athlete.

I researched this topic for a month straight and although there are countless articles on this topic from places like Inc., Fast Company, Medium, The Muse etc., the best and most practical advice (in my honest and humble opinion) comes from this yahoo article and best-selling author Marci Shimoff.

  • Take Responsibility: The starting point in this process is shifting your mentality from victim to victor. “The victims are the ones who think, ‘Life is going to happen to me and I’m either going to be lucky or unlucky,’ and that is just not true,” she says. “But the victors wake up each day and say, ‘I am going to make my life and create what I want.’”
  • State Your Intention: Shimoff has a “power formula” to manifest positivity in your life. Step one: Be clear on exactly where you’d like to see the luck revealed. “If you want luck in your career, what would that look like to you?” asks Shimoff. “Remember that things always happen twice — they happen first in the mind, and then they happen in reality. Intention is your vision.”
  • Show Your Attention: The second step involves putting your energy — meaning your thoughts, words, feelings, and actions — behind your intention. “The feelings are the real juice behind it all.” She states, “If you can’t feel the way you would feel as if you’ve had a lucky life, then you won’t be able to manifest it.”
  • Live with No Tension: This step tends to be the most challenging for people living in today’s society because it’s about “arriving” at a place of relaxation. “The goal is to not be attached to the outcome,” she explains. “When we’re happy for no reason, when we have an inner sense of peace and well-being, it opens the spaciousness for the luck to come pouring in.”
  • Express Your Gratitude: “Feeling grateful for what you have helps the door to luck open wider.” Even though you may crave a new job, a bigger paycheck, or to be in a romantic relationship, be thankful for everything and everyone in your life at this moment. “When we ignore or dismiss what we already have, it shuts down the pipeline to more good coming in.”
  • Stop Overanalyzing: Do yourself a favor and fight the urge to dissect every aspect of every situation. “All of us overthink choices that lie ahead,” says Bob Miglani, an executive at a Fortune 50 company and author of “Embrace the Chaos.” “Thinking is important, but often we let our minds direct us forward.” Your best bet: Stop thinking, and start feeling. “Lucky people seem to lead from the heart, not from the head,” he says.
  • Let Go of Past Failures: Learning to dust yourself off from previous setbacks and disappointments will also increase your odds of catching some lucky breaks. “The biggest way we block our luck is by lack of forgiveness,” explains Shimoff. “Holding onto resentment, grudges, and anger cuts off the flow of luck coming to us. No matter what someone’s challenge may be — finances, relationships, health — one of the first things I suggest is to practice forgiveness.”
  • Embrace Your IQ: Being a member of Mensa will not increase your chances of opportunities landing in your lap. In fact, “lucky people admit they’re not smart,” Miglani says. “They become smart by trying and reading. They ask questions, welcome new ideas, and toil away at their craft day in, day out. And they recognize that happiness and success in life comes from constant learning.”

Final thoughts: Stop knocking on wood, crossing your fingers and pulling apart wishbones hoping for your luck to change – it won’t. The truth is, the lucky ones in life know deep down there is no random luck and that it starts and stops with their intention to choose, think and act differently and so can you.

The floor is yours: Do you believe luck plays a role in someone’s career?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership,

Joshua / www.JoshHMiller.com

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