Are You Lucky?

Vision comes from within. That is sometimes easy to forget when we who create, fight against bad luck. Because we have all fought and been discourage by lack of luck. I know I have, and I know all my creative peers, friends and colleagues have. Some get over it and some don’t.

Most of us believe that luck is random and arbitrary. But the fact is, we are all in position to channel good luck. Studies and stories of people how have turned the dime to their advantage, are many. We all have the ability to amplify or diminish how luck strikes us.

Study after study reveal that lucky people have a special quality about themselves and how they see the world. They are like metal detectors that are always turned on. One who has studied luck is Richard Wiseman, head of the psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire. According to him, lucky people generate their own good fortune by following four basic principles. They create and notice chance opportunities. They make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition. They create self-fulfilling prophecies via positive expectations. Finally, they adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

This may all sound very good. However, when you stand in the middle of period when nothing seems to work out, it’s not easy to keep expecting things to change to the better. It’s much easier to give up. I know, I have been there myself. Some time ago, I had put in a lot of effort, money and time into preparing a project that everybody told me was going to be a success. I was selling the idea for the project to a big national institution in hope they would finance it, in fact they had asked me to propose the project. The people at the institution were all positive and made me feel like it was only a formality before the project would be accepted. But, when it came down to the final decision, my project was turned down. Instead, money was given to another project that seemed to have nothing about it at all. Later on, I heard that it came down to connections. The person behind the project that “won” knew the people on the board of the institution. It was a devastating blow to my self-esteem. I was about to give up.

When you are there, it’s not easy to be enthusiastic about anything. Nevertheless, enthusiasm is really what makes things change and creates luck. Enthusiasm is raw energy for life. It’s a powerful force. It draws luck like a magnet. When you do something out of passion and enthusiasm, out of yourself, things will start to change. You start to create luck and those self-fulfilling prophecies that Wiseman points to. Making luck happening is not about fate, really, it’s about finding your life’s call, or to put it less pretentious, to do what you love. If you take the chance on what you believe in, and don’t give up, good things will start to happen. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success”.

Your unique view of the world is your most valuable asset, regardless of what you do. “Don’t ask yourself what the world need. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who come alive.” That’s according to the African-American author, Howard Thurman.

So maybe luck has less to do with chance and more to do with how we live? In the international best-selling book The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho crafts an allegorical narrative around this idea. The main character in the story, a young man named Santiago, works as a shepherd until he has a dream that awakens him to a deeper calling for his life. Fear holds him back from responding to the call, but the dream persists. Eventually, Santiago musters up the courage to follow the path for which he was meant. Leaving his comfortable life behind, he journeys into the unknown and is invigorated with the possibilities of this new path. Following his path seems to have some generative power, almost like a gift that fills him with strength, enthusiasm, and good luck.

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80 thoughts on “Are You Lucky?

  1. Thanks so much for this heartening post, Otto. It’s reminded me of something I heard the other day on the radio.To somewhat paraphrase a maestro’s advice to opera singer Rosalind Plowright when she was feeling nervous before a performance, he said: ‘the universe gave you gift. Go out there and give it back to the universe.’ I think this applies to all of us.

  2. Each Soul is Unique. Then, Life Path depends a lot on the immediate family circle, a Must favourable environment, on hereditary processes persisting for generations… on the relationship between a child like “Cosette” and her “Parents” like the Thénardiers ; Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. On my side, I still never met Jean Valjean yet… Enjoy a great day. Merci Otto for your posts.

      1. sure!:) refering to “les miserables” as image to illustrate a particular situation ;-)… because, depending on where you were born, of own family circle, social and economical environment. When growing up, Life Path may meet with many uncertainties… anyway, in conclusion, therefore 😉 I feel that every Child living anywhere in the world should be enabled to benefit, of getting to know True Love right from early childhood (from parents, true relationships, or from a Jean Valjean living not so far in the neighbourhood).That way, Life Path would be ready to welcome the best of all that life has to offer, with full opportunities, on both the personal and the professional level… well, I guess 😉 To me, Only True Love can grant such Success. World population of 7.3 billion!? but million kindred spirits do not meet. Uhh, Quite a mess!

  3. It is hard to not give up when our hopes are dashed. I think it was Einstein who said intelligence is the ability to adapt and I imagine that means to carry on in difficult times. An uplifting message from you Otto for we will all face disappointments but how we react is the key to success.

  4. Your post brought to mind something interesting: I’ve never thought in terms of luck, either good or bad. I’ll use the term occasionally, in a colloquial sense. For example, I’ll say of one photo or another, “That was a lucky shot.” But in those cases, luck isn’t an external force. It’s simply another way of saying, “Right time, right place.” And that, of course, is nothing more than a reminder to get out and about in the world, and keep our eyes open.

    Bon Jovi has a song — a favorite of mine — that also makes the point. About midway through it contains these lyrics: “Tomorrow’s getting harder, make no mistake; Luck’s not even lucky, gotta make your own breaks.” Indeed, we do.

    1. There is a difference between luck and luck. Luck as in winning the lottery is pure coincidence. But luck as what happens on your path to somewhere is very much a result of your own breaks, to paraphrase Bon Jovi.

          1. This is true. But I’ve had some friends and family have some really crummy things happen to them and sometimes those things seem to just happen? like without them having made a bad choice, so I try not to get to high and mighty about the good things in my life.

  5. As they always do, your posts, this one made me think. How often do I use “luck/y” or “bad luck”, really? Not often. Because, as you say, being at the right place the right time often “does” it. Often you feel when and where intuitively, other times you don’t. But not everyone does though -if you are determined and prepared, you will have better chances.

    When it comes to your “bad luck”, the outcome was due to connections. Extremely usual today: – no connections — no work, and the other way around. Having the right connections will get you almost anywhere. But, if someone gets a job from connections, at least the “loser” knows that he/she could have done nothing to get that job. And, the one who got it did not get it on better merits than yours.

    I think I mostly say “bad luck” concerning illnesses – serious illnesses. Two friends of mine got serious illnesses last year. Now one of my old friends is gone. Cancer and Alzheimers – bad luck. No one can be sure not to get it – it doesn’t matter what you think or do. I loved “The Alchemist” though, and wish I could believe in the core of those words. because he writes them beautifully.

  6. Otto,

    Compliments, such an inspiring peace again.

    By the way on the birth card of my doughter I placed a quote of Cohello book us a guide line for her life.

    I enjoyed every line of your tekst. 🙏☀️

    Thanks and cheerful greetings for you. Dominika

    >

  7. Great post. It’s easier to be discouraged, than encouraged. Humans are like that sometimes, but we just have to get over ourselves and become encouraged, and enthusiastic again.

  8. Many of us regard luck as a financial success, but the reality is that luck can be whatever you want it to be.

    I’ve never been ‘lucky’ enough to buy my own home, but have been exceptionally lucky in living in various urban areas close to beautiful environments and green spaces. I’ve certainly had what I might class as 4 miracles in my lifetime, so that certainly counts as very ‘lucky’ life experiences.

    I’m hopeless with money in the sense that I always spend it right down to the last dollar, but somehow when the going gets tough, I always have ‘just enough’.

    I’ve had good jobs and not-so-good, but all have taught me lessons in life. If I hadn’t had such serious and on-going health conditions, I never would have had to quit my full-time job (which was boring and repetitious) and found Photography as a hobby. While it is limited to what I see in my immediate surroundings, it brings me a certain sense of luck and success. Just when I think there’s nothing more to photograph, I walk a different path and find a whole new subject matter (literally and figuratively).

    I am incredibly lucky as despite limited physical health, I’ve had more creative opportunities that most people in my position (who may not have the imagination and initiative to make the best of what life has dished out to them).

    If you miss out on one lucrative and interesting job into which you’ve put a lot of time and effort in preparation, then I might suggest you weren’t meant to have it. The important thing is to not give up, but to search for a new path or direction. I’m sure that ‘missed’ job opportunity gave you more experience in research and preparation (for another job which you were meant to have).

    I have limited eyesight, but I have creative vision. I have four quotes (from a quote blog) that I keep at the bottom of my gmail inbox and read nearly every day. One of them…..

    “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” – Henry David Thoreau.

  9. I often think about luck or lack of it. People or things we see as “lucky” often are not. Someone may be lucky in their job but when they get home their life can be very unlucky. You may think some one is lucky and then find out they are lonely or sad. The person who’s proposal won because of connection would have been better off winning on their own merits and not on those of people they know. Looking for the silver lining or turning that perceived bad luck into a positive can be tricky but makes life sweeter.

    1. I agree.
      Everyone has their own story (to tell) and we should try not to make assumptions based on what we see. Other people’s reality can be very different to what they share in public.

  10. Sometimes I think the “bad luck” we experience is actually a blessing in disguise which makes us try new things or go in different directions than we wanted, but eventually turn out to be better than our initial, limited hopes. I love the way this photo goes with your message. Wishing you lots of good luck in the future!

    1. Bad luck can indeed by a blessing in disguise. It really comes down to how you handle it. What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger, no? Thanks for the comment and the feedback, Linda.

  11. Hello Otto,
    What a wonderful look into the idea of being ‘lucky’ Otto.
    I can understand your disappointment as you described it and it’s brave to keep going with our voices when we feel rejected in whatever way.
    But as your lovely quotes say, if we are true to what’s in our heart, we can only keep going as an original.
    Another great post I’m so happy to have read 💐

  12. Interesting… love “the alchemist”. Enthusiasm and Energy are necessary to keep it going. And as once Richard Avedon said to one of his student another E can be generated: Emotion.
    Trying to turn bad luck into something positive again requires a lot of energy. But when it works the result is surprising.
    I had a bad luck moment in january when I broke a shoulder (in a very stupid way) and could not use my right arm and hand for a few weeks. It was bad, I couldn’t do almost anything. But to react I decided to learn, or at least to try to draw with my left hand. I din’t make any masterpieces but this helped me to spend my time and to gain confidence in myself as well.
    robert
    PS : if you are curious :
    https://thequietphotographer.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/drawing-with-my-left-hand/
    https://thequietphotographer.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/more-left-hand-drawings/

    1. What a wonderful way to turn around an incident that happened to you. Nobody wants a broken shoulder, but you didn’t just accept fate. I hope you shoulder is healing well by now. By the way, I know the E’s of Richard Avedon. Will get back to your posts about the left hand drawing.

  13. I try not to use the word “luck” because I feel “fortunate “ is a better describer. Years ago my university art professor and mentor said “You make your own opportunities.” I’ve always opted to believe whole heartedly that that is generally it…one makes his/her own opportunities. Thank you, Otto, for another thought provoking essay. Raye

  14. Quite an interesting post and I could very well relate to this one…

    I take great inspiration from Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist and even used the name of the main character for my blog.

    I don’t really believe in Luck, as whatever I am or I have is the result of hard work.

    Especially in Photography, hardly ever I got a great picture just by luck, but with lot of preparations, visualizations and of course timing.

    If someone would like to consider this timing as ‘Luck’ I won’t deny it.

    Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post, Otto 🙂

  15. This is a really interesting essay, Otto. I’ve been told by friends that I’ve been lucky. Typically this is in reference to family life and health more than in a professional sense, but I always find the comment a little hard to take. I have been fortunate, but lucky? I tend to think that luck takes away the personal responsibility for where we find ourselves. Timing can be a help, and others can come into our lives that also connect and give us a boost, but most successful people have been very clear on their direction and hardworking towards it! I think this is a very interesting topic. I also think “The Alchemist” is an excellent allegory and I’m glad you mentioned it. I hadn’t thought of it in a long time.

  16. Your post inspires me to find my own happiness and not to look at others to make me happy. Passion is the key. Beautifully worded with much potency. I loved reading your words, Otto. 🌹

  17. The Wiseman findings and the Thurman quote are interesting. I like thinking about enthusiasm and coming alive as ways to set out on a lucky path, and as Spring comes those ideas seem especially appropriate. You must have noticed an opportunity and followed your intuition when you decided on this post topic! 😉

  18. It can be devastating to have crushing disappointment when everything was pointing to a good result. We fall down, we get up (like the song goes), but sometimes it is good to stay in the dust for a bit, wail before getting up. I have found this to help get the pain out of my system. I hope all is well with you and will get even better.

  19. I appreciated the post Otto. Pierre Trudeau summarised your point well wnen he said, ‘Luck, that’s when preparation and opportunity meet.’

  20. Wonderful thoughts and encouragement. And glad to know I am not alone with those times when nothing seems to be working out. I call it a ‘slump’ but keep going until the next thing excites me.

  21. Otto, you have such a gift of sharing wisdom as well as coaxing the best out of your readers!

    Yes, ‘luck’ is often the result of positive attitudes, and intuition is very important as well. A friend and I were discussing ‘gut feelings’ and when we ignore them, usually our plans backfire and we regret not listening to our ‘higher selves.’ We also have to be true to ourselves and not try to do what others want us to do!

    As always, thanks for a thought-provoking post!

  22. Wonderful, piece. I don’t believe in luck but I do believe, as you seem to, that our way of looking at and interacting with the world determines how we get on in life. I don’t believe things “happen for a reason”. If things are bad they are not a punishment for acting badly or “bad luck” ;if they are good things that happen they are not a reward for good behaviour or “good luck”. I agree with you that life can be very unfair but it is our ability to pull ourselves up and keep going that is most important.

  23. As much as I use the word (I got lucky, I was lucky, etc.), I don’t think that I truly think in terms of luck, good or bad. Both good and bad, “stuff” happens (or doesn’t), and I really think that how we handle it is key.
    As always, a wonderful and thought-provoking post, Otto.
    Thank you!!

  24. What gets me are the naysayers who, because I haven’t yet hit my “lucky streak”, say that I should give up on my creative dreams.

    Forget that!

  25. What an inspiration this post is Otto, thank you. It felt as if it was meant for me today. That sucks about the rejection, I like to think that something as good, or better, is right around the corner, though it’s difficult sometimes…

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