How To Be Lucky

Luck — success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Luck is one of those mystical forces that we don’t really understand. Much of our luck is out of our control; you pretty much get what you get. However, there are definitely some things we can do to increase our chances of getting lucky in life, and that’s what this post is about.

This isn’t science, it’s speculation, but it’s worked for me so I want to share what I’ve learned.

Think In Probabilities, Not Definite Outcomes

Some of you know that I used to play poker competitively. I was by no means a pro, but used to play 8–12 tables at a time online and made a fair amount of money when I was in school. I was also lucky enough to pull all of my money out before the sites went bust and locked up everyone’s cash.

The biggest lesson I took away from poker is to think in terms of probabilities. In poker, as in life, you can put yourself in the best possible position to win… but anything can happen when the cards hit the table.

For example, lets say you have an 80% chance to win and I have a 20% chance to win. In theory, you should win 4 out of every 5 hands. In reality… I could win all 5, win 3, or win 0. We’ll only find out when the cards hit the table, and the chips exchange hands. Poker taught me to separate my expectations of “what should happen” from the reality that probabilities are always at play.

I’m using poker as a metaphor here, but it could be anything. It could be taking a chance on leaving your job, moving across the world to be with the love of your life, or deciding whether or not to take an offer to sell your company. Every tough decision we make in life comes with risks and rewards. By viewing these risks and rewards through the lens of probability, instead of expectations, it allows us to approach the situation with more clarity and a better understanding of the possible outcomes.

Try to estimate the chances of success, and the chances of failure. Be brutally honest with yourself, because it helps to arm you with the information you need to make the best decision you can. All we can do is put ourselves in the best position to win; the rest is out of our control.

All right I get it, think of the probabilities instead of the outcomes… what does that have to do with being lucky?

Life Isn’t Fair, So Stack The Deck

Unlike poker, life isn’t fair. Everyone doesn’t start with the same amount of chips. If you’re reading this from the United States, the deck is already stacked in your favor. Now, here’s how we can increase our chances of getting lucky. It’s going to be a bit of a long metaphor, but stick with me because it’s the best way I can think of to explain this nuanced point.

Let’s imagine that life is a game of dice, and in order to “win” you need to roll a 20. We’re talking about standard dice here, with values from 1–6. Winning means different things to different people. Winning may be starting a family and being a fantastic parent to some, or building a billion dollar business to others. Whatever your definition of winning is, let’s pretend you need to roll a 20 to get there. I’m leaving out one important variable though… how many dice do you have to roll?

If you have 3 dice, you’re not going to win no matter how lucky you are. If you have 20 dice you can’t lose. You could be the “unluckiest” person in the world and roll all 1’s, but still win the game. In order to win this game, it’s less about what you roll and more about how many dice you have.

Now what are the “dice” in this metaphor? You can think of dice as things like health, education, social capital, financial capital, and intelligence. These are just a few examples, but hopefully you get the point. The “dice” in this metaphor are areas of life, some in our control and some not, that will positively affect our chances of “winning”.

For example, let’s say Bob eats healthy and exercises daily, has a top-notch education, insane raw intelligence, but is antisocial and has spent little to no time building financial capital. Bob would have 3 dice, and his range of rolls would be between 3–18. Even if Bob rolls all 6’s, he’s going to lose. Poor Bob.

Now let’s say Eduardo has the health, education, and intelligence, but has also spent time growing his friend circle and budgeted over the last 10 years to build his financial capital. Eduardo now has 5 dice, and his range of rolls is 5–30. He only needs to roll 66% of his potential to win the game.

I know that was a long and nuanced metaphor, and if you’re still reading this thank you… you the real MVP. Once again, this isn’t science, but it definitely has helped me to build a better understanding of luck. I hope it helps you too… and best of luck on winning the game.

P.S. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it. If you liked this post, please recommend it (by clicking the ❤ button below) or share it on social so others can take a look.