Do you align more with Murphy’s Law or The Luck of the Irish? They both abound here on the Emerald Isle. Luck. Coincidence. Providence. Karma. Destiny. Fate…Is luck just randomness, or is there some science behind it? And can you change your luck? These are questions that many people wonder, myself included, and I was curious to know the answers so when the opportunity arose to review How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life, I thought it would be an interesting read.
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How Luck Happens was written by Janice Kaplan (the author of The Gratitude Diaries), with help from Barnaby Marsh, a risk expert. Janice and Barnaby delve into this ‘mysterious’ world of luck using a combination of math, science, psychology, and personal anecdotes to explore what luck is and if it can be changed.
I happen to have been born on a Friday the 13th during a full moon and I’ve often felt that I had bad luck…especially that year when I broke 3 mirrors! However, I have also felt at times that I have had more than my share of good luck; but was it luck or just coincidence, or maybe even simply my outlook on life? That’s an interesting question, too.
How Luck Happens
The main parts of this book are divided into the following sections:
- Prepare to be Lucky
- How to Get Lucky
- Targeted Luck
- The Other Side of Luck
- The Big Picture
These sections alone, give you a good clue to improving your own luck. You must prepare; you won’t ever achieve a high-paying executive job without any education and experience (unless you’re Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can), and you have to be willing to take risks to set yourself up in situations that will further help you network and be in the right place at the right time.
Barnaby seems to have met a great array of the world’s rich and powerful through his work and connections; between he and Janice, they have an example of good luck for just about every situation, as well as how this luck was attained and what factors came into play. Some situations do seem random and complete chance, and either outcome could have life-changing effects (think Sliding Doors, which coincidentally was mentioned in this book and was on TV while I was reading it).
Of course, you also need the right mind-set or you may not even see when opportunities arise for increasing your luck; this I have also realised from personal experience, and has a bearing on whether you see an event as either ‘good’or ‘bad’ luck and the knock-on effect that it can have.
How does one achieve good luck? Indeed, it does boil down to opportunity, positive attitude, passion, and persistence. If you don’t take a risk and grab those opportunities when they arise you will, of course, have zero chance of a positive outcome in your desired fortune. But risk too much and you could lose it all! Luck can be a slippery slope.
I quite enjoyed reading How Luck Happens, and found the conversational tone of it easy to read, and the personal insights were interesting and helped to illustrate the aspect of networking that can be involved in luck (but not in quite the way you’d imagine).
With graduation season upon us, this book would make a unique gift for a graduate. It would also be very appropriate for anyone changing jobs or direction in life, or who would like to have a little inspiration (or a nudge) towards changing their own luck and taking the steps to set themselves up for the future.