What is Luck Made Of?

The Page What is Luck is my own answer to the question, but I wanted to have a a few other authors' ideas here on the site, so I have this article from Eric Hammer. You'll notice that he comes to some of the same conclusions as I do.

What is Luck

By Eric Hammer

It is said that truly lucky people aren't really any more lucky than the rest of us. They just take advantage of the opportunities that come to them and don't ask, what is luck? Now while this is not always the case (after all, games of chance such as playing the lottery or playing a slot machine usually involve pure "dumb" luck), in most cases, we do tend to see the opportunities presented to us but we decide to ignore them because we simply can't be bothered to follow through or we're afraid to take a chance. Here's what you need to know about luck:

The Right Place at the Right Time

The first thing to realize when trying to figure out the answer to the age old question, what is luck, is that it is completely random. Luck is often described as being in the right place at the right time. However, beyond that, luck means taking advantage of being in the right place at the right time and that's where the randomness of it comes in. Throughout our lives, we will each make billions of different decisions, from what food to eat for breakfast to what college to go to whom we'll marry and where we'll live. Each and every one of those decisions, even the minor ones can have a ripple effect which will affect just how lucky you are.

An Example of Seeming Coincidences

Imagine the person who makes the decision to eat a bran muffin and coffee from Dunkin Donuts in the morning. She goes into the local donut shop and picks up her muffin and coffee, turns around bumps into a man who is standing behind her. She apologizes for having bumped into him and offers to pay for dry cleaning his trench coat, which is now covered in coffee. She has just made a series of decisions, including what to eat, where to eat it, when to turn and whether or not to offer to pay for cleaning the man's trench coat.

The man in turn is grateful and hands her his card. It turns out that he works in the same industry that she works in and they strike up a conversation. He offers her a new job which leads to a new career in her chosen field. Is this luck? In part, it is luck - if she hadn't made the series of decisions she'd made, she would not have not bumped into this man and her life would have been completely different. However, in part, it's also taking advantage of a situation that presented itself rather than simply lamenting that she has no idea how to answer the question, what is luck?

It Can Go Both Ways

Of course, luck is a funny thing - it can easily go both ways. Imagine our same busy woman getting her very same cup of coffee and muffin in the very same Dunkin' Donuts. Only this time, when she turns around and spills her coffee, she gives him an inadvertent push and the man bumps into the guy behind him. The guy behind him is actually waiting to rob the place and pulls his gun out. Suddenly, the woman's luck changes completely. Gone is the friendly conversation that ensued after the coffee incident. Gone is the new career. In its place is a mugging where she hopefully walks away with her life but nothing more.

Taking Advantage of Luck

The above are of course hypothetical examples, however the important thing to remember when considering this question of what is luck is quite simply that it's a combination of two things. It is partially about being in the right place at the right time. However, it's also partially about taking advantage when the chance comes to you, which it inevitably does.

Imagine once again our hypothetical woman in the coffee shop who spills her coffee on the man behind her. He hands her his card and she notices that he works in the same industry she does. However, instead of saying, "hey, you know I work in banking also - I'm at First National" she simply shrugs, assumes it's a coincidence, which it is, and puts the card in her pocket to mail the man a check later on. The opportunity presented itself to her, but it is now lost because she didn't take advantage.

Being Lucky Means Taking Advantage

We could go on and on with different scenarios of our hypothetical woman in a coffee shop to examine the intricacies of luck, however the bottom line is that we all are presented with opportunities, often on a daily basis, to be lucky. The ones who understand how to exploit these lucky situations however never have to ask, what is luck? They know what it is - it's what they do on a daily basis when opportunities present themselves.

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