Make Your Own Damn Luck!

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I started thinking about luck.

I decided to learn more by researching it. As luck would have it (pun intended), I found all kinds of great information. But I was most intrigued by something shared by Dr. Tina Seelig, a 50+ mermaid who teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford University. She also runs several fellowship programs that focus on entrepreneurial leadership and is an author.

In June 2018, she delivered a TED Talk* in New York City titled “How to Catch Luck.” I’ve included the highlights below.

What is Luck?

We use the word “luck” all the time. But what does it really mean? Here is Dr. Seelig’s definition:

“Luck is defined as success or failure apparently caused by chance. Apparently. That’s the operative word. It looks like it’s chance because we rarely see all the levers that come into play to make people lucky. But I’ve realized, by watching so long, that luck is rarely a lightning strike, isolated and dramatic. It’s much more like the wind, blowing constantly. Sometimes it’s calm, and sometimes it blows in gusts, and sometimes it comes from directions that you didn’t even imagine.”

She then posed a question: “How do you catch the winds of luck?”

“It’s easy, but not obvious,” Dr. Seelig said.

How to Increase Your Luck

Dr. Seelig shared three ways to do that:

1. Take small risks to get you out of your comfort zone.

Remember when we were young and didn’t worry about things? We took risks all the time. But as we get older, we take very few risks, said Dr. Seelig. We need to get out of our comfort zones.

She suggested taking small risks, and we have many types to choose from: “There are intellectual risks and physical risks and financial risks and emotional risks and social risks and ethical risks and political risks.”

Dr. Seelig shared a social risk that paid off for her. As someone who typically put on headphones as soon as she got in her airplane seat, she took a small risk by starting a conversation with the man sitting next to her. That conversation ultimately resulted in a published book that sold over a million copies.

While some people would consider her experience “lucky,” in reality, she created her own luck by taking a risk.

2. Show appreciation to others.

Dr. Seelig said, “When someone does something for you, they’re taking that time that they could be spending on themselves or someone else, and you need to acknowledge what they’re doing.”

She shared more inspiring stories that led to “lucky” events, and explained some of her own personal ways to show appreciation. Her favorite one? Looking at her calendar each day, and reviewing all the people she met with, then sending thank-you notes to each one. While this only takes her a few minutes, she feels incredible gratitude and appreciation, and is certain it has increased her “luck.”

3. Change your relationship with ideas.

Dr. Seelig suggested that we stop judging ideas. “Ideas are neither good or bad,” she said. “And in fact, the seeds of terrible ideas are often something truly remarkable.”

She shared that one of her favorite exercises in her classes on creativity is asking students to look at terrible ideas through a lens of possibilities. The students learn that crazy or bad ideas can actually be amazing.

Finally, Dr. Seelig said, “If you look around at the companies, the ventures that are really innovative around you, the ones that we now take for granted that have changed our life, well, you know what? They all started out as crazy ideas. They started ideas that when they pitched to other people, most people said, ‘That’s crazy, it will never work.’”

These ideas also lead to luck.

Final Thoughts

Want to get lucky?

You have the power to do just that. These tips should help.

Please share your lucky experiences.

*TED Talks are delivered by speakers presenting terrific ideas in under 18 minutes. The flagship TED Conference is held annually on the North American West Coast. The breadth of content includes science, business, the arts, technology and global issues. Other local events include Salons, events for women and for youth.

You can check out Dr. Seelig’s entire speech, here.