Chance & luck ride alongside success. How to capitalize on this fact? By leaving yourself open to uncertainty.
So far, so orthodox. You see, as a species that creates, we’ve fallen prey to the autocracy of planners. Those who believe that a collaborated to-do list is quintessential for success, or that we need a meticulously chalked out calendar of meetings to extort best results from every minute of every day. But while all of the organising makes for great self-help books, it really only serves as a rubber-coating to our more intrinsic needs.
Studies (yep, there are scientists who study luck) have uncovered the surprisingly huge role chance plays in life. They say we are more like dandelions floating with the wind than captains at the wheel. Certain people understand this fact of life.
Like most people, you probably think you have more influence over your life than you actually do. This illusion of control is the reason most of us prefer picking our own lottery numbers, than have someone else do it. It’s why drivers regard accidents as much less likely in ‘high-control’ situations, such as when they are driving, than in ‘low-control’ situations, such as when they are pillion.
This illusion of control stretches to how we view other lives too. The stories we hear about successful businessmen, athletes, artists, usually come across like they got there through sheer sweat and talent. What’s absent is the acknowledgement of the relevance of chance. A hardly talked about population of equally hardworking, talented individuals massively outnumbers the famous hi-fliers. Perhaps you are one of these hidden aspirers. So what’s the one main difference between you and the uber elite? Luck.
Uncertainties come in 2 forms
To say luck plays a significant role in success can be discouraging at the outset. However, once acknowledged, systems can be put in place to shield against bad luck and take advantage of the good. But before anything, realise that uncertainties come in two types and each require a different strategy.
The first kind are those probabilities that are lawful and measurable. For e.g. the more times you rehearse a presentation, the better it will be. Rehearsing won’t guarantee you a successful pitch, but it sure will increase your odds.
The second kind are the game changing ones. Nassim Taleb, a renowned risk analyst called these Black Swans. These are the completely unpredictable events that can be positive or negative. A positive variety of this kind is what can catapult a regular fella into superstardom.
Walk the serendipity street
Taming uncertainty effectively means realising the limits of your control. You can influence the kind that are known. This is where hard work pays off – in practice, research and learning. The more hours you invest, more your odds of succeeding in a predictable fashion.
Black Swans require a different approach. A basic shield against the negative Black Swans can be summed up with that age-old adage – ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. We all understand this proverbial gem.
For the positive Black Swans, you need to be open to good luck. This is where risk-aversion and over the top planning backfires. By not taking chances, you reduce the probability of the needed lucky event ever happening. It’s by willingly allowing some risk into your life that you expand opportunities for great things to happen.
Accept unexpected invitations, take a new route to work, experiment. Follow your intuition, respect your hunches. I don’t mean be reckless. I mean – don’t be so meticulous with your life, so over-outlined, that you fail to eat that best slice of luck that ever came your way. When we maintain a lunatic focus on controlling our lives, we can easily let them positive Black Swans fly by with no trace.
You can’t always force success to happen. More often than not, we need luck. Seize the uncertainty. Influence probabilities that are predictable, and make yourself flexible enough to cope, or rather exploit, those that are not. Don’t be a creature of routine. Introduce variety into your life.
If you get the flow, try your luck and put your skills to test at the second edition of the Deltin Poker Tournament 2017 powered by Adda52.com, starting from the 19th to the 24th of April in Goa.
Feel lucky, always.