How Lucky Are You? And Why?

March 28, 2012 8:20 pm

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you? And why?”

This is one of the interview questions used by Zappos, a customer-service company praised for its culture.

It’s based on research by psychologist Richard Wiseman, head of the psychology research department at the University of Hertfordshire in England. In a Fast Company interview, Wiseman said “I was talking to people about why they’d ended up where they’d ended up (… and what) kept coming up were things like “luck” and “chance.”

Lucky Dice

“Over time, we built up a database of about 400 people from all over the UK, all walks of life, who considered themselves especially lucky or unlucky. In the Luck Project, we’ve had them take part in experiments, interviewed them, had them keep diaries — all sorts of things — trying to piece together why you’d have one group of people for whom everything would work out well and another group for whom things would be completely disastrous.”

There’s a big distinction between chance and luck

“Chance events are like winning the lottery” Wiseman continued. “They don’t consistently happen to the same person. When people say that they consistently experience good fortune, I think that, by definition, it has to be because of something they are doing.”

Wiseman found that people aren’t “born lucky”. They’re unconsciously using four basic principles to create good fortune in their lives. They tend to:

  • Have an attitude that maximizes chance opportunities;
  • Be in touch with and cultivate their intuition;
  • Expect good fortunes, which become self-fulfilling prophecies; and
  • Thrive on bad fortune by taking control and creating positive outcomes.

“What I’m arguing is that we have far more control over events than we thought previously. You might say, “Fifty percent of my life is due to chance events.” No, it’s not. Maybe 10% is. That other 40% that you think you’re having no influence over at all is actually defined by the way you think.”

Amen. Too often, we forget how incredibly, insanely, foolishly lucky we are.

If you’re reading this you’re alive, and reasonably healthy. You can see, you’re educated, and are computer-literate. Best of all, you have the unimaginable luxury of being able to think about philosophical issues instead of just survival issues.

“An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him.”
~ Zig Ziglar

Every day, we have the choice of who we’re going to be at the office: the guy who brings sour grapes — or the guy who brings the tartar sauce.

Celebrate What’s Right With The World

I’ll leave you with this terrific video from National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones. His advice here may seem to be about photography, but what it’s really about is more than that.

It’s about finding another way to see life.

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Photo Credit: Steve A. Johnson (Creative Commons)


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