#348: Power Play – Luck

When you see the athletes receiving their medals at the Olympics, it’s not uncommon to find that the bronze medalists are smiling a little wider than the silver medalists.  Why is bronze better than silver?  You win bronze, but silver is the consolation prize when you lose gold.  Instead of feeling proud of themselves for making it as far as they did, in the moment, silver medalists can only think about this one loss and how close they were to victory.

The Survivor’s Club is a fascinating book by Ben Sherwood, and in it he explains that luck isn’t about fate – it comes down to your own mindset.  Lucky people see the positive side of their misfortune (called counterfactual thinking).  Instead of being consumed with everything that went wrong (like silver medalists often do), they imagine how much worse off they could have been.  Bronze medalists tend to be happier because they realize that it was an accomplishment to have placed as high as they did – they could have finished in fourth place and ended up without a medal at all.

From The Survivor’s Club:

Imagine slipping on loose stair carpet, falling down a flight of stairs, and twisting your ankle.  Lucky or unlucky?  Thinking counterfactually, lucky people believe they’re fortunate that they didn’t break their necks.  Unlucky people believe that falling down the stairs is bad news no matter what happens.

It turns out that we can all be lucky, it just depends how we think about it.  There are 4 reasons why good things always happen to the same people:

  • Lucky people are more open and receptive to unexpected possibilities
    • They spot and seize opportunities that others miss
    • Being in the right place at the right time is actually all about being in the right state of mind
  • Lucky people listen to their hunches and make good decisions without really knowing why
    • Unlucky people often ignore their intuition and regret their decision
  • Lucky people persevere in the face of failure
    • They expect good things to happen, whereas unlucky people expect that things will always go wrong
  • Lucky people have a special ability to turn bad luck into good fortune
    • “Life’s best survivors react to disruptive change forced on them as though it is a chance they desired. The same crises or disruptive changes that make some people victims are turned into good fortune by people with the serendipity talent.”

Game Plan:  Try thinking counterfactually the next time you feel like something bad is happening to you.  You can decide in your mind to win silver rather than lose gold.  You have the power to make your own luck.


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