Now listen to me closely I'll endeavor to explain
What separates a charlatan from a Charlemagne
A rule confessed by generals illustrious and various
Though pompous as a Pompey or daring as a Darius
A simple rule that every good man knows by heart
It's smarter to be lucky than it's lucky to be smart
-From Pippin, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
I consider myself lucky. I'm not incredibly lucky by any stretch, but there have been many moments in my life when I marvelled at the circumstances I was in that can't be construed as anything but pure chance. Obviously, I don't equate luck to money, otherwise I wouldn't consider myself particularly lucky (just more or less stupid)... but in general I go through life feeling as if things are going to turn out alright.
This Fast Company article about luck talks about how it's a state of mind to be lucky, and I agree with that. If you're a positive person, you look at the things that go well, and not vice versa and therefore you *feel* lucky. But it's also about being open minded:
What are some of the ways that lucky people think differently from unlucky people?
One way is to be open to new experiences. Unlucky people are stuck in routines. When they see something new, they want no part of it. Lucky people always want something new. They're prepared to take risks and relaxed enough to see the opportunities in the first place.
How did you uncover that in your lab?
We did an experiment. We asked subjects to flip through a news-paper that had photographs in it. All they had to do was count the number of photographs. That's it. Luck wasn't on their minds, just some silly task. They'd go through, and after about three pages, there'd be a massive half-page advert saying, STOP COUNTING. THERE ARE 43 PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS NEWSPAPER. It was next to a photo, so we knew they were looking at that area. A few pages later, there was another massive advert -- I mean, we're talking big -- that said, STOP COUNTING. TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU'VE SEEN THIS AND WIN 150 POUNDS [about $235].
For the most part, the unlucky would just flip past these things. Lucky people would flip through and laugh and say, "There are 43 photos. That's what it says. Do you want me to bother counting?" We'd say, "Yeah, carry on." They'd flip some more and say, "Do I get my 150 pounds?" Most of the unlucky people didn't notice.
I can totally see this. Half the people I know just don't *pay attention* and they don't, *think ahead*. And when bad things happen to them, they just moan and prepare for the next bad thing, instead of the other way around. I think that's all there is to it. Many things are predictable, you just have to be prepared when they happen both bad and good. "Seventy percent of success in life is showing up," Woody Allen said, and I totally believe it. The other 30% is showing up at the right place.
Now, here's the problem. What if that goes away? That's what's happening to me lately... I just can't seem to keep those thoughts in my head any more. All those little what if scenarios seem to be harder to keep track of. It's like I'm *slowing down*. Age? Stress? Having a kid? Being in a country where I have to spend 40% of my brain power translating all the time? This last one isn't a joke, my first couple of years in Spain I would feel physically drained at the end of the day from having to interpret every little detail of my day and translate it. From the language to cultural expressions, to working out how the toilet functions. I'm not sure what it is, but something seems to be drowning out that bit of my head that used to do all the intuitive stuff. Now I find myself guessing wrong more times than not. Instead of taking that short cut and arriving 10 minutes early, I arrive 30 minutes late. Instead of doing the right thing at the right time, I find myself *remembering* that I needed to do the right thing 3 weeks late.
I wonder if I burnt that bit of my brain out? So now the question is, what is life like when you can't rely on that little voice any more? Seems like it's going to be a bumpy ride.