By Dumi Jere
Starting with last week’s article, you may have observed that this column is taking a more casual style with articles geared for relaxed, easy, yet still ever-informative reading.
After all, it’s December. What a year it’s been, and we are all looking forward to taking a break, getting together with friends and family, and coming back stronger for 2023. And so this week, let’s dive into another easy read for December and explore the concept of luck.
According to the Collins Dictionary, “luck or good luck is a success or good things that happen to you that do not come from your own abilities or efforts.” In other words, some events are beyond one’s control and seem subject to chance.
Luck is an interesting concept. There is undoubted “luck” that is uncontrollable — pure and raw. Things that fall into this category of luck could be where you are born or to whom you were born. These are the base circumstances of one’s life.
As we push beyond this baseline, however, the concept of luck morphs into something more impure and fluid. I am of the school of thought that believes that much of what we come to call “luck” is actually the macro result of 1,000s of micro-actions. Our daily habits often put us in a position where “luck” is more likely to strike.
If we agree that we can do things to increase our luck surface area, the big question is, what are those things? Let us look at four ways one can improve their luck.
Be the Dumbest in the Room
If you have a choice between entering two rooms, choose the room where you are more likely to be the dumbest one in the room. Perhaps I am using a very harsh word – dumbest. But really, the notion is that we must surround ourselves with people that are smarter than we are. In that way, we can learn more and become wiser. Of course, once we enter such rooms, we aim to listen more and talk less. For that time, we appear less intelligent, which will hurt our ego, but this will undoubtedly improve our luck. And the moment we feel we are more intelligent than anyone else in the room, it’s time to find another room.
Hang Around Optimists
Pessimists sound smart. Optimists get rich. Plain and simple. When choosing who to spend time with, prioritize spending time with optimists. Pessimists see the doors that are closed, and because of that, they sap our energy. They have an ever-half-glass-empty view of life. Optimists, however, see the open doors — and probably kick down the closed ones. They view life through a glass-half-full lens. If one is to increase their luck, then one should remove pessimists.
Schedule Free Time
The idea that free time is bad is one of the greatest lies we’ve been told. For example, in investing, it’s often said that cash is a call option on future exciting investments. Well, in life, I believe that free time is a call option for future exciting opportunities. When you have free time, you have the headspace to pursue new ideas and go down rabbit holes.
Busy has become the dystopian status symbol of the modern worker. We have somehow decided that being busy is good, so we take pride in our busyness and wear it as a symbol of our value to society. If we are busy, it must mean we are extremely valuable. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to normalize boredom. Some of our most creative moments come during periods of boredom. Boredom creates luck. Go for more walks (without technology), go for more drives, sit quietly, and think. You’ll never regret it.
Get Out & Engage
It’s hard to get lucky watching Netflix at home on the couch. However, it’s (relatively) easy to get lucky when you’re engaging with people, interacting, and learning — in physical or digital worlds. Therefore spending more time engaging, you’ll find yourself in more positions to get lucky. It may feel scary at first, as we may not be as confident. But, one must build confidence.
The easiest way to build confidence is to become an expert at something. If you are exceptional at one specific thing, luck tends to find you. Your expertise becomes a magnet for new and exciting opportunities you never knew existed. In addition, public awareness of your expertise is a plus. Thus, share your work to widen the reach of your magnet.
Humans are born with great curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we’re told to stop asking questions. So instead, we must embrace curiosity again and follow it. Curiosity will drive us to knock down doors and enter new rooms. Fortune favours the curious. Next time you meet people, try asking them:
What are you most excited about that you’re working on right now?
What is your favourite book that you’ve read recently?
I know almost nothing about your field of expertise. Can you tell me more about that?
These kinds of questions will get others talking — plus they’ll remember you for future opportunities.
Dumi Jere is the Managing Partner at Talanta.co Consultancy Services, a management consultancy that partners with leaders in business and government to achieve meaningful, sustainable transformation.