Since part 1, I’ve been posing that question (do you control your luck) to every hapless soul who passes my way. So apologies to everyone I’ve accosted!
So I had to look into the research on luck, what do the researchers say. From what I have read so far, it seems very little has been done on luck or the perceptions of it and only Professor Richard Wiseman (read a short article here) at the U of Hertforshire has done some empirical work. Professor Wiseman theorises that luck is something we can help to generate by following four simple principles.
- Principle One: Maximise Chance Opportunities
He found that lucky people do this in various ways, including networking, adopting a relaxed attitude to life and by being open to new experiences.
- Principle Two: Listening to Lucky Hunches
Lucky people make effective decisions by listening to their intuition and gut feelings.
- Principle Three: Expect Good Fortune
These expectations may become self-fulfilling prophecies by helping lucky people persist in the face of failure, and shape their interactions with others in a positive way.
- Principle Four: Turn Bad Luck to Good
Lucky people spontaneously imagine how things could have been worse, do not dwell on ill fortune, and take control of the situation.
As chance or luck would have it, my afternoon meeting was cancelled and as I was near the National Gallery and hadn’t been in years, I decide to take the opportunity. Perhaps it was my frame of mind, but I happened across Cezanne’s “An old woman with a rosary” and it made me pause. After reading the placard next to it I was struck by the darkness of the interpretation, “attempting to glean comfort in absence of any worldly support … clutching her rosary … her dark drab clothes heighten her despair”. Yet when I looked at the painting I saw an old woman, deep in prayer and devotion and with a look of hope, despite the bleakness of her surroundings. I didn’t see the despair. But it did strike me as such an illustration of what I had been reading in the luck research. So I walked out of the National Gallery waiting for my luck to come grab me ……. hmmmmm. Oh well, on the plus side, I snapped the lovely picture of Nelson’s Column silhoutted against the sky (it’s the one you see on part 1 of this post). Ahhhh, perhaps I’ll win a prize for that one …. :o)
So why am I kerfuffling over luck? Simply that our perceptions of situations colour the way we interpret what we experience. One person’s misfortune is another’s opportunity. One side of the world is in light while the other is in darkness. We can’t always see what is on the other side. Our point of view is just that, our point of view. And there are many points of view, ways of looking at a situation, an obect a painting etc. What is perhaps most important in all this, is to be able to recognise those multiple aspects, multiple points. It may not affect how we act or react (then again it may), but in recognising those multiplicites, perhaps we open ourselves to the possibilities. Perhaps we open ourselves to receive some luck – however you want to describe it. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life and in my career, but when I think about why .. maybe it wasn’t just luck, maybe I did have a bigger part to play in it after all ….
On a final note … I came across this clip over the weekend. Many of you will have seen it – of a young man driving on the motorway who managed to avoid getting hit by a semi-truck crashing through a barrier directly in front of him. Amazingly, he swerved and avoided it. Now that’s sheer luck! When interviewed, he said, “”Everything seemed to slow down and I think all those years playing video games as a kid paid-off”. So was he lucky? Or unbeknownst to him, had he spent his childhood training his reflexes for just this emergency? ….