ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

January 24, 2012

Be lucky.

Robert X. Cringely’s first tip for would-be entrepreneurs is: 

 “Avoid stupid and unlucky people.

I’m taking his advice because starting a company is hard.

I want to be luckylike the kitten that adopted me last week.

For decades my father has told me that

It’s better to be lucky than to be good.

I don’t just want to be good; I want to be excellent.

My dad says that to be excellent I should surround myself with people who have good luck. He tells me that people with good luck are contagious — as are people with bad luck!

My dad regularly affirms:

Avoid the unlucky, the unethical, and the unhappy.

To find people who are ethical, I have a strategy. My startup co-founder has a sixth sense when it comes to sniffing out ethics; Detective Troutgirl is always on the case.

As for happiness, lessons are repeated until they are learned. There is no way to happiness because happiness is the way; consequently, people reveal true colors in conversation. But what about luck?

I want to find people who are as attracted to luck as cats are attracted to heat.

To create luck, I conjure up some scientistic sleuthing.

If 80% of success is showing up, then

80-90% of luck is an excellent attitude.

Those numbers are corroborated scientistically by business shark Daymond John and psychologist Richard Wiseman:

Daymond John boldly declared on Shark Tank

Life is like business. It’s 20% what happens to you, and 80% how you respond.

Richard Wiseman concurs,

Only about 10% of life is purely random.
The remaining 90% is defined by the way we think.
Our attitudes produce our luck.

I read those sentiments over and over, and think to myself: Still, there’s that remaining 10-20% that is pure luck, and that’s the part we need EVEN if we work hard and make wise choices and are as patient as a crouching kitten.

So… How can we MAKE more luck?

In 2010 I chuckled that with a luck factoryI’d make a fortune.

Since then, I’ve become aware that there are traits that we can practice to increase our ability to make our own luck.

On 106miles.net I summarized Bakadesuyo’s article How can you become more lucky? by noting that lucky people practice four traits: openness, intuition, optimism, and resilience.

Practice every day, as much as possible:

1. Openness to new experiences. Network. Meet new people. Re-engage with people you know.

2. Intuition. Listen to yourself. Meditate to clear your mind regularly.

3. Optimism. The mind is a feedback loop that creates self-fulfilling prophecies, so be positive.

4. Resilience. Success is moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” (Winston Churchill)

To that I add, don’t try to avoid pain:

Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you. You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.

(mis-attributed to Bob Marley; actual author unknown)

Be open. Be intuitive. Be optimistic. Be resilient. Good luck!

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Get Lucky: The Book.

I’m going to make it a habit to spend time with people who are lucky, and we’ll see what happens when I practice lucky traits.

I will stay interconnected and get enough sleep.

Yes, sleep

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Refer to me as @ifindkarma and I’ll be happy. You can also find this work as a chapter in Eric Ries’s and Hunter Walk’s wonderful Uncensored book for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Photo credits: All four pictures in this post were taken by me using Instagram on iPhone 4s, and are hosted on Flickr. These pictures feature the cats I humbly serve: Beavis, the 18-year-old silver Tabby; Coco, the 18-month-old Tuxedo kitty; and (unnamed), the 9-month-old lucky black cat who adopted me last week at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. Not pictured is Lola, the 9-year-old Oklahoma runaway feline who is camera-shy.


  1. I don’t know Adam, I think that you’re already pretty lucky to have such cuddly cats.

    Comment by jessieay — January 24, 2012 @ 11:28 pm

  2. Thanks Jessie, I’d like to say that I chose those cats, but I know the truth is that cats choose people, not the other way around.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 24, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

  3. Clear your mind, and what to do will become clear.http://ifindkarma.posterous.com/enlightenment

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 1:37 am

  4. I always say, it takes alot of skill to be lucky

    Comment by aweissman — January 25, 2012 @ 1:43 am

  5. Andrew, it sure does! I practice at it EVERY day.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 2:24 am

  6. If you’re reading this comment, you are lucky.http://ifindkarma.tumblr.com/post/16443540137/you-are-lucky

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 2:45 am

  7. Proposed: Luck is in the eye of the beholder. The right spin makes an event seem like luck to others. Moreover, promoted "luck" can present itself as assclowning. Thus: painting an event as luck can be humble acknowledgement of preparedness for opportunity. Inadvertent right place, right time, and the right kind and degree of preparedness is the luck part.Thank you again, Rabbi Rifkin.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

  8. Well said, Susan. You remind me of a concept called "Luck Surface Area".The amount of serendipity that will occur in your life, your Luck Surface Area, is directly proportional to the degree to which you do something you’re passionate about combined with the total number of people to whom this is effectively communicated:http://www.codusoperandi.com/posts/increasing-your-luck-surface-area"Well, look who I ran into," crowed Coincidence."Please," flirted Fate, "This was meant to be."http://pinterest.com/pin/217298750740415205/

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  9. Don’t forget to hug at least five people a day.Hugs make us happier.http://www.bakadesuyo.com/do-hugs-really-make-us-happierHappier people are luckier.http://www.happylifeu.com/Why_Happiness.html

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  10. Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else.http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/what-lucky-people-do-differently/

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  11. All of which brings to mind the Four of Cups in the Tarot deck. The image is of a young man sitting cross-legged at the base of a tree, and arms crossed. Three cups are standing nearby. Another cup is being offered to him from a hand emerging from a cloud. This, too, is unsatisfactory. http://bit.ly/wtHvNk(Cups, BTW, represent love, nurturing, compassion, wholeness, fulfillment.)It’s not enough to know merely what you want. You need a sense of the essence of what you want. Then when you are presented with different configurations you’ll recognize or gravitate to that essence. Strips the exterior, which is mostly meaningless anyway.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

  12. You need a sense of the ESSENCE of what you want, so you can attract it.Everything is about INCLUSION.http://ifindkarma.posterous.com/everything-is-about-inclusion

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

  13. After reading this article, my father emailed me: "Great article, remember luck, guts and brains in that order."He’s still a big believer in luck.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 26, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  14. You’re simply redefining the meaning of luck. If a drunk idiot crashes his gigantic truck into your eco-friendly compact, your attitude won’t help much. Same if your house in some country far from the US gets bombed by mistake. Or if you were born into abject poverty and can’t read this blog.You are preaching to a choir of survivors; intelligent, educated people who live in the developed world and speak the dominant language. All of us have been so lucky already that we just need a relatively small effort to take advantage of it. It sounds great, of course. It’s like Usain Bolt talking about all the hard work he put in, and conveniently forgetting that he’s a genetic freak.Survivor Bias, do you speak it? 🙂

    Comment by Anonymous — January 26, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

  15. OMG, Diego. Thank you. Attitude can help in recovery, but getting started in life with a wobbly gyroscope, random acts of disaster, or the simple inability for whatever reason to respond to options and events effectively when currents shifting violently can make us helpless or feel helpless. It’s hard to stay philosophical after a lifetime of trying to learn and recover from such chaos.To be clear, that’s why I point out the need to understand the essence of what you need and want. And to build good character. I have experienced unfortunate launch conditions, disasters, and big missed possibilities. In the end you can only learn so much before you realize that varied external and internal conditions can make "correct" learned responses follies. Sometimes ill luck or a flawed choice from among flawed choices crushes you, and recovery (if recovery is possible) takes you to places you could have never intended. Philosophies mostly keep us from being paralyzed with dispair. Meanwhile, I hope I’m not branded as "unlucky". I’m lucky I was born a female, in the US, in the 20th Century.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 26, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  16. Susan, you’re definitely lucky.Diego, you’re right, I’m referring to the kind of luck that applies to the kind of people who could read this post.If you can read this post you are more fortunate than the 3 billion people on the planet who cannot read at all:http://ifindkarma.tumblr.com/post/16443540137/you-are-luckyWhen Charles Swindoll via @tinybuddha says ???Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it???, his sentence is of little help to a person in a car crash or who has a bomb dropped on her or him.You’re right that we’re lucky to be survivors. We’re grateful that we survived, and now how can we make the most of it?How can we, being lucky to get this far, increase our luck?By considering the characteristics that lucky people share: http://www.quora.com/What-traits-do-lucky-people-shareThat post refers to a Readers Digest article on how to be lucky: http://www.rd.com/money/how-to-get-lucky/Lucky people see what is there rather than what they’re looking for.Other basic principles from the Reader’s Digest article:1. Seize chance opportunities; 2. Create self-fulfilling prophecies through positive expectations; and3. Adopt a resilient attitude that turns bad luck around.These themes have been consistent with other things I’ve read about the common traits of lucky people, and are therefore worth sharing.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 28, 2012 @ 2:02 am

  17. Sorry to be a girl about this. I thought of another angle of the question of luck that bugs me.To many people, ‘luck’ is code for ‘divine intervention’. Ergo – conspicuous consumption to display just how ‘blessed’ one is.The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, expresses it nicely in her song "Freeway of Love":"…don’t know what you’re doing, but you must be livin’ right."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip_pjb5_fgAI always hated that line.The ugly side of this idea is when bad things happen to good people. Like when Joplin, Missouri is flattened by a tornado. Or Haiti, of all places, is wrecked by a hurricane. Or AIDS decimates the gay population. Civil wars in Africa cause interminal havoc (and yet it’s the happiest continent on the planet). Some idiots comment that this is indeed an indication of, like, immoral behavior. And thus the people are unworthy of being assisted. So ill-fortune is compounded by even more ill-fortune. It’s like we’re still in the freakin’ Dark Ages.It’s considered common courtesy to not kick a (man) when (he’s) down. Better yet, a person of character lends them a hand, gives them a chance to help themselves get on a stable, dignified track.Cut this "it’s the way it was ‘meant’ to be" crap.Adam, I think what you mean in your post is that we can be smarter about getting and keeping ourselves moving toward usefulness to society and feeling fulfilled.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 28, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

  18. Susan, you and I are talking about the same thing.Bad things do happen regularly, and unfortunately there’s no way to avoid that. There’s no such thing as all-good, all-the-time. No one has 100% good luck. Some bad luck is very, very bad.What I’m talking about is the kind of luck that is under our control through our attitudes on a day-to-day basis.The kind of luck that affects the hundreds of decisions we make every day.Miracles don’t happen. Effort happens. Thought happens.http://ifindkarma.tumblr.com/post/15552008473/miracles-dont-happen-sweat-happens-effortLike Susan, I want to help create more virtuous cycles, and break out of more vicious cycles.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 29, 2012 @ 12:11 am

  19. I thank @Cringely, @RichardWiseman, and @TheSharkDaymond for inspiring me to write this post for the #UncensoredBook. http://post.ly/4xx4u Dozens of top bloggers contributed to #UncensoredBook benefiting @EFF for free, open Internet. Download now: http://leanpub.com/uncensored

    Comment by Anonymous — January 29, 2012 @ 2:23 am

  20. There is a way to be lucky. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-be-lucky.html

    Comment by Anonymous — January 29, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

  21. Character is destiny.??http://ifindkarma.posterous.com/character-is-destiny

    Comment by Anonymous — January 29, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  22. "90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world." ~ Shawn Achorhttp://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.htmlhttp://www.facebook.com/groththedaker/posts/365039313507182

    Comment by Anonymous — February 2, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

  23. Free yourself from negative people.#1 thing in 20 things to start doing in your relationships:http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/01/29/20-things-to-start-doing-in-your-relationships/

    Comment by Anonymous — February 6, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  24. Even the most successful geniuses have bad ideas and get lucky!Steve Jobs, for example, didn’t want third-party apps on the iPhone.Woops!He was talked out of this stance, to everyone’s benefit.Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/11-dumb-moves-mark-zuckerberg-that-should-have-cost-him-his-25-billion-fortune-2012-2?op=1

    Comment by Anonymous — February 11, 2012 @ 1:32 am

  25. How to be lucky at work: Have a work ethic. http://www.businessinsider.com/l-how-to-get-lucky-at-work-2012-3

    Comment by Anonymous — March 14, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

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