Discard bad luck before it becomes worse: How lucky are you? | Sunday Observer

Discard bad luck before it becomes worse: How lucky are you?

Over the past year, I have read more than ten biographies of successful people aiming to get an answer to a simple question: What do lucky people do that unlucky people don’t do? The extracted answers have led me to conclude that five major characteristics distinguish the lucky from the unlucky. Furthermore, I am convinced, most of us can improve our luck simply by incorporating these characteristics into our daily lives. Here’s what you can do:

Form many friendships

In general, the luckiest people are those who have many friends and acquaintances. One of my friends, an executive “head-hunter” who brings luck to people in the form of lucrative job offers, has analyzed the chains of circumstance that led him to win job candidates. The majority of such chains turned out to be those of acquaintanceship.

“Lucky people,” he says, “are social-minded. They go out of their way to be friendly. They talk to strangers. If they sit next to somebody on an airplane, they start a conversation. For them, the man who sells their morning newspaper is more than just a face. They know his name and how many kids he has.”

Honour your hunches

A hunch is a conclusion based on facts that your mind has accurately observed, stored and processed. But, they are facts that you don’t consciously know because they are stored on some unconscious level of awareness.

Hotel man Conrad Hilton owed his monumental success partly to a finely tuned hunching skill. He was trying to buy an old hotel in Chicago whose owner was selling it to the highest bidder. All the sealed bids were to be opened on a certain date, and several days before the deadline Hilton submitted a $165,000 bid. He went to bed that night feeling vaguely disturbed and woke with a strong hunch that his bid was not going to win. “It just didn’t feel right,” he said later. Acting on this strange intuition, he submitted another bid: $180,000. It was the highest bid. The next one down was $179,800. He started his upward rise with that hotel.

How do you know whether to trust a hunch? Another friend, a retired stockbroker, said, “Ask myself: Have I gathered all data on this situation? Have I found out all I can? If the answers are yes and if the hunch feels strong, I tend to go with it.

Never confuse a hunch with a hope. A lot of bad hunches are just strong wishes in disguise.

Be bold

Lucky people tend to be bold. Luck probably creates boldness, but boldness also helps create good luck. To act boldly, follow a few rules:

(1) Be ready to zigzag, to jump off in a new direction, when a good opportunity comes your way. (2) Know the difference between boldness and rashness. If you bet your life’s savings on a spectacular venture in which you stand to lose everything, that is rash. If you accept an exciting new job opportunity even though you are scared by the thought of stepping into the unknown that is bold.

Limit your losses

Lucky people discard bad luck before it becomes worse luck. This sounds like a simple trick, but many people - the essentially unlucky - never seem to master it. There is always a time at the start of any souring venture, when you can get out with a minor loss. But, that time may pass quickly. After it has gone, the glue of circumstance rapidly hardens around your feet. You are stuck, perhaps for life.

A young chemist left a small retail company in a remote town to take a higher-paying job with a large organization near Colombo city. His wife thought he was making a mistake and would be miserable in an urban environment. His old boss also doubted that the young man would adapt to life in a big company.

Within a few months of moving, the chemist knew his wife and former boss were right. He didn’t like life in the metropolis. Moreover, his prospects were both quite different from what he was promised. This would have been the time to leave and cut his losses, but he kept hoping the bad beginning would evolve into a happy ending. By the time he finally determined that his problems weren’t temporary, he was stuck with unpaid bills and loans.

It may be hard to say, “1 was wrong.” Yet, as my stock broker friend says, “Knowing when to leave (or sell out) and having the guts to do it is an essential technique of successful living.” He added, “If you are losing a tug-of-war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope.”

Prepare for problems. Most lucky people nurture pessimism, guarding it against assaults, exercising it daily to keep it lean and hard. My management guru always advised me, “When you go into any business deal, your main thought should be how I’m going to save myself if things go wrong.”

The use of pessimism among the lucky can be articulated in terms of the famous Murphy’s Law: ‘ ‘If something can go wrong, it will.” So, never assume that you are fortune’s darling. Never drop your guard.

A study of accidents among bus drivers in our country concluded that among “bad-risk” drivers - those involved in more than a normal share of accidents - an outstanding personality trait turned out to be over-optimism. The bad-risk driver had too much faith in his own skills, in other drivers’ good sense and ability, and in luck.

Lucky men and women are aware that no life is ever totally under the control of its owner. If you cling to an illusion of control, you won’t build defences against bad luck and, when bad luck does strike, you will be too demoralized to react in useful ways.

People who are lucky are by definition those whom fortune has favoured - but one reason they are favoured is that they never assume they will be. They know fortune is fickle.