Oct 16

Feeling Lucky

I’ve been reading this fascinating book about luck lately, and the key thesis is that people aren’t lucky or unlucky. Rather, each group exhibits certain behaviors that increases or decreases their opportunities for positive, lucky things to happen to them. One of these behaviors is that lucky people really look around themselves at all times while unlucky people have tunnel vision.

This was pretty evident to me today in the line at my favorite lunch place. They have a deli-style ticket counter where you pull a ticket with a number on it. Every day, they post about six winning numbers, and the winner gets a free lunch. Today, when I pulled the ticket, it was two before a winning number. The guy behind me pulled the ticket that was one off, meaning that the very next person to pull the ticket would get their lunch free that day.

The next four people, for whatever reason, didn’t pull the ticket. That is to say, four people had the potential to have a really awesome, lucky experience at lunch that could have brightened their spirits and saved them money, and they just didn’t even see it.

It reminded me of an experiment in the book where they set up a lucky man and an unlucky woman. Both were told to meet the interviewers at a coffee shop. For each meeting, they planted a five dollar bill outside the coffee shop and an actor in the coffee shop who was pretending to be a businessman who would help them in some way.

The lucky man spotted the five dollar bill, sat next to the businessman, chatted him up and got help with a problem. The unlucky woman? Walked right over the five dollar bill and refused to engage the businessman although she sat by him too. When asked if her day was lucky, she just said it was normal.

It makes me think. How many opportunities do we all miss every day because we just don’t pull the ticket? How many days do we consider ordinary that could have had something extraordinary? I’d like to stop missing stuff.


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