How to Get Lucky: 13 Techniques for Discovering and Taking Advantage of Life's Good Breaks - by Max Gunther

The First Technique: Making the Luck/Planning Distinction

If you want to be a winner, you must stay keenly aware of the role luck plays in your life. When a desired outcome is brought about by luck, you must acknowledge that fact. Don't try to tell yourself the outcome came about because you were smart. Never confuse luck with planning. If you do that, you all but guarantee that your luck, in the long run, will be bad.

The Second Technique: Finding the Fast Flow

Go where events flow fastest. Specifically what does that mean? It means, simply, make contact with people. Get involved. Don't be a sideliner, watching events flow past. Plunge into the events yourself. Surround yourself with a churning mass of people and things happening.

The lucky personality gets to know everybody in sight: the rich and the poor, the famous the humble, the sociable and even the friendless and the cranky.

The kinds of luck that this Second Technique is concerned with – the breaks that flow to a target person along linked chains of people – cannot easily reach a target who is only a face seen in a supermarket. To be singled out as a lucky target, you must make something of yourself known to those who are your primary links in the network. These can still be what we've called "weak" links, but they must be at least strong enough so that people know who you are, what work you do, what your interests are, what kinds of rewards you look for in life.

The Third Technique: Risk Spooning

It is essential to take risks. Examine the life of any lucky man or woman, and you are all but certain to find that he or she was willing, at some point, to take a risk. Without that willingness, hardly anything interesting is likely to happen to you.

The Fourth Technique: Run Cutting

Always assume a given run will be short. You will virtually always be right. The law of averages is heavily on your side.

The Fifth Technique: Luck Selection

As you enter any new venture – an investment, a job, a love affair – you cannot know how it will work out. No matter how carefully you lay your plans, you cannot know how those plans will be affected by the unforeseeable and uncontrollable events that we call luck. If the luck is good, then you stay with the venture and enjoy it. But what if the luck is bad? What if the bottom drops out of the stock market? Or the seemingly limitless promise of that new job vanishes in a corporate upheaval? Or your love affair sours when a rival suddenly appears? The lucky reaction is to wait a short time and see if the problems can be fixed or will go away, and then, if the answer is no, bail out. Cut losses short. This is what lucky people habitually do. To put it another way, they have the ability to select their own luck. Hit with bad luck, they discard it, freeing themselves to seek better luck in another venture.

The Sixth Technique: The Zigzag Path

The lucky, alert to the luck/planning distinction, are aware that life is always going to be a turbulent sea of opportunities drifting randomly past in all directions. If you put blinders on yourself so that you can see only straight ahead, you will miss nearly everything. Long-range plans aren't actually harmful, but it is important not to take them seriously. A plan can be used as a kind of guide into the future but should never be allowed to harden into a law. If something better comes along, you should be ready to abandon your old plan immediately and without regret.

The Seventh Technique: Constructive Supernaturalism

The Eighth Technique: Worst-Case Analysis

The Ninth Technique: The Closed Mouth

Time and again, we are going to be dealing with the unexpected. That being so, the best strategy would seem to be one of maximum flexibility: keeping ourselves free to deal with those unknowable events in whatever ways seem appropriate at the time. The trouble with too much talk is that it can constrict that valuable freedom and flexibility. Talk can tie you up, lock you into positions that seem right today but may be wrong tomorrow.

The luckiest people guard against unnecessary talk. They are particularly careful when talking of subjects that have great personal importance to them. They reveal no more of their thinking than they have to. They don't lock themselves into positions where there is no good reason to do so. Typically, others think of them as somewhat mysterious. "I never really know what's going through her head." And that is as it should be. By avoiding excessive communication, lucky men and women are freed of the need to explain and justify actions to other people.

The Tenth Technique: Recognizing a Nonlesson

When outcomes are brought about by random events that are not under anybody's control – events that we would define collectively as luck – then you must be very careful in determining what lessons may be drawn from them. The habit of deriving false lessons from life's random happenings is a trait of the unlucky.

The Eleventh Technique: Accepting an Unfair Universe

The fact is that fairness is a human concept. The rest of the universe knows nothing of it.

The Twelfth Technique: The Juggling Act

Lucky people always seem to have many ventures going on at the same time. You never know what seemingly unpromising activity is going to be the one that catches fire for you. All you can know is that the more activities you have going on, the greater is the likelihood that something good will happen.

This Twelfth Technique is closely allied with the Second: Fast-flow orientation; and the Sixth: the zigzag path. Taken together, they can keep you busy. As a candidate for good luck you will find yourself juggling many ventures that compete for your time and attention. Your life will be a whirl of people as you seek the fast flow. Instead of plodding toward a distant goal in a straight line, you will often be distracted by unexpected new opportunities that pop up to your left and right, and each one will require new decisions and more actions.

The Thirteenth Technique: Destiny Pairing

Getting Lucky: Putting the Thirteen Techniques Together

One good way to get started on luck improvement is to ask yourself which technique has been most notably lacking in your approach to life.