Be lucky

I’ve never given any credence to the idea that you ‘make your own luck’, as if chance in life can be ruled out in some way. But there is a very real sense in which we can affect the luck we have. We can’t stop chance occurrences from happening, but there is much we can do about how such matters affect us.

The Ancient Greeks spoke of the constant tension in life between Cosmos (order) and Chaos (disorder). Many things happen along straightforward lines. They are regular, predictable and orderly – natural processes, for example. But that is only half the story. There are also things that happen at random, in unpredictable, disorderly ways. For a long time there was a scientific orthodoxy that assumed that everything in the universe followed predictable patterns. Those things that appeared to be random were following patterns that science was yet to discover and understand. As Einstein famously said: God does not play dice with the Universe. However, quantum science, as it has come to be known, is now challenging that orthodoxy and helping us to understand that there are indeed random elements in the Universe – chance is real and not just an illusion that scientists have yet to dispel.

So, if we have to accept that we are all subject to chance, how can we make sure that we can ‘be lucky’? Well, it all depends on our reaction to chance events, how we respond to them. So, we can’t stop certain things from happening, but we can control what we do about them. We can be negative and defeatist and just moan about some untoward event that has happened. Or, we can cast off any such cynicism and look closely at what we can do positively about the situation we are in. It comes down to something I have discussed with many, many groups of people over the years (on training courses, at conferences, when being a guest speaker at a university and so on): when we encounter a situation we are not happy with we have two main choices: on the one hand we can spend our time complaining about has happened and bemoaning our fate, thereby contributing to low morale (hence making a bad situation worse). Or, on the other hand, we can pull together and support one another in doing the best we can in difficult circumstances (and thereby make a contribution to boosting morale, rather than lowering it).

So, we don’t make our own luck if by that we mean we can prevent or counteract all chance happenings – that simply isn’t realistic. There are so many things that will happen that we can neither control nor influence. However, we can ‘be lucky’ by making the most of the opportunities chance throws up for us – capitalising on the positives, making the best of the negatives – rather than allowing ourselves to be trapped in a vicious circle of disempowering negativity.

Luck and chance are about opportunities. Chance happenings will close off certain opportunities, but will open the door to certain others. If we see luck as something we just have to learn to live with, we will be missing the opportunities that are presented by chance events, whether those events are positive or negative, welcome or unwelcome. It’s what we do with them that counts.