The Luck Factor

4 Basic Principles



The Science Behind The Luck Factor

The luck factor, or as it is commonly referred to a lucky streak, means to succeed or prosper as a result of chance or good fortune.

"The Luck Factor" is also the title of a book published 20 years ago based on the research of  Professor Richard Wiseman who for more than 10 years, examined the behaviour of 1,000 volunteers who considered themselves lucky or unlucky.

In summary, his findings show that lucky people are people who have consciously or unconsciously mastered the art of generating their own good fortune via four basic principles. Lucky people are:


1. Skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities

  • Lucky people just try stuff.
  • Unlucky people suffer from paralysis by analysis.
  • They wouldn’t do anything until they walked through every single angle and by then the world had moved on.
  • They don’t gain the benefits of learning through doing.
  • Lucky people start small, try lots of stuff, see what works and what doesn’t, and iterate based on their feedback.


2. Make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition

  • Almost 90% of lucky people said that they trusted their intuition when it came to personal relationships.
  • 80% said it played a vital role in their career choices
  • About 20% more lucky than unlucky people used their intuition when it came to making important financial decisions
  • Over 20% used their intuition when thinking about their career choices.


3. Create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations

  • On average, lucky people thought that there was about a 90% chance of having a great time on their next holiday, (and) an 84% chance of achieving at least one of their lifetime ambitions…


4. Adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good

  • Lucky people are very resilient.
  • Wiseman recounts talking to one lucky person that had fallen down some stairs and broken his leg. The guy ended up in hospital where he fell in love with his nurse and later married her.
  • Wiseman noted: "That’s a very resilient attitude. Lucky people tend to have that sort of approach."






Unpacking The Luck Factor



The 4 kinds of luck

In his 1978 book Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty neurologist and Zen Buddhist Dr. James H. Austin introduced the concept of the 4 kinds of luck.

His work was based on his studies and experience of the role of luck - or chance as he referred to it - in medical research.

Angel investor and philosopher Naval Ravikant has re-popularised this concept more recently in a series of tweetstorms and blog posts.

They define the luck factor in the following 4 ways:


1. Blind Luck

This is where you get lucky because something completely out of your control happens and it is to your significant benefit. A lottery win would be a good example of this. But it can come in any form, the key feature of this luck is that it is totally random.


2. Luck From Action and Motion

Naval Ravikant refers to this as: “...luck that comes through persistence, hard work, hustle, motion. Which is when you’re running around creating lots of opportunities, you’re generating a lot of energy, you’re doing a lot of things, lots of things will get stirred up in the dust.”


3. Luck From Preparation

Ravikant describes how: “You become very good at spotting luck. If you are very skilled in a field, you will notice when a lucky break happens in that field. When other people who aren’t attuned to it won’t notice. So you become sensitive to luck and that’s through skill and knowledge and work.”


4. Luck Unique To You

This kind of luck is the hardest kind because it takes time and focused persistence. This type of unique luck occurs as you develop your expertise and build your reputation and move to expert status.  It is where you build a unique character, a unique brand, a unique mindset, which causes luck to find you.


Further Reading:

James Austen - Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty.

Naval Ravikant - How To Get Lucky.






The Luck Factor Starts And Ends In You

As we can see from Wiseman's 4 principles and Ravikant's 4 types of luck the human element in the luck factor is critical.

Whilst you can not control random luck, action, preparation and deep specialisation are all key factors in creating and attracting luck. These are all things that you can do.

The balanced view of the luck factor recognises the importance of what you do and how you do it, but also the importance of managing the dynamics of your inner game.


The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.

Be so good they can't ignore you.

In "So Good They Can’t Ignore You" Cal Newport cites the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to “...be so good they can’t ignore you...”

Newport recommends adopting the craftsman mindset where you are continuously learning and honing your craft through "deliberate practice".

This builds on the 4th kind of luck described above that recognises that while you can’t control  luck, you can influence it and you can attract it by committing to being the best at what you do.



    You do not want to compete, you want to be a market of one.









The power of expectation

A significant component of the power of any success strategy lies in the expectation that you will achieve your goal or objective.

Whatever you expect - of yourself, your career, your relationships, your life - sets the limit of what is possible for you.

Henry Ford once said: "If you believe that you can do a thing, or if you believe you cannot, in either case, you are right."



    We invariably rise to the limits of our own expectations in life.









You Are What You Think

Be aware of the internal dialogue, the self-talk, that's happening in your head.

There is a direct causal link between how we think about a situation, the words we use to articulate those thoughts, the energetic state associated with those words, and the outcomes we create.

People who practice the 4 principles of the luck factor and who are successful, in any sphere of life, develop an ability to monitor and reshape their own thoughts:

  • They are skilled at noticing their own negative self-talk and systematically replacing it with positive affirmation and with a vision of their success.
  • They refuse to accept limits on their potential.
  • They expect the best - from the world and from others.
  • They take full responsibility for the choices they make and the thoughts they think.


    If you want to be successful, start thinking of yourself that way.









The importance of managing your energetic state

We live in an energetic world, and how we feel inside most of the time - our dominant emotional state - has a major bearing on our experience of life, especially over time. In other words we live in a participatory universe.

I can recall a situation in my own life about 30 years ago when I unconsciously resisted looking inside myself to make some personal changes.

I used to wait for things to change “out there”. I was continually scouring the landscape looking for evidence of change happening "out there" so that I could feel better, until eventually I came to a realisation:

I had to feel better for things to change.

Why was this so hard? Basically it was difficult because I was seeking evidence on which to base my positive feelings because:

I was grounded in, and fixated on, circumstances.

It took me a long time to realise that feeling better was an internal state, and that my experience of life was ultimately dependent on that.

It took me even longer to realise that I needed to give myself permission to do this, and that in so doing I had to overcome a deep-seated and largely unconscious commitment to the belief that it was somehow “wrong” or ego-centric to do this.

I eventually came to understand that this resistance stemmed from my childhood upbringing and religious background and that I erroneously thought that in changing my expectation I was somehow usurping the “will of God”.

The may sound irrational, and these things often are, but when I became consciously aware of this I was able to make the desired inner changes by reframing the belief.




    Luck is where opportunity meets preparation. [Seneca]










Next Article: The Wilderness Years

Return from "The Luck Factor" to: Walking The Talk

Or to: Renewing Your Mind

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