Reflections: Do You Believe In Luck?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca

Reflections: Do you believe in Luck? Lucky Four leaf clover...

Have you ever won the lottery? Have you received a special prize at an event door? Do you believe in luck? Is luck based on destiny, coincidence or sheer hard work? We often come across stories of people who have had a remarkable event occur in their lives; saved by a last minute change in plans, money won or found, help from a stranger, a heartfelt wish met, a lucky four leaf clover found on the street, a dream come true and on and on… While there are events that occur as a result or consequence of our actions; our self-effort in finding the perfect suit for a wedding, our tireless research that led to a promotion on the job, there are events that simply highlight our good fortune. I believe luck can be a result of a combination of factors; sheer good fortune, hard work, destiny, serendipity, and synchronicity; not necessarily all together.

Bad Luck, Good Luck…
There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this was very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck? Who knows?
Everything that seems on the surface to be an evil may be good in disguise. And everything that seems good on the surface may really be evil. So we are wise when we leave it to God to decide what good fortune and what misfortune are, and thank him that all things turn out well for those who believe…
Author Unknown

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson

Reflections: Do you believe in Luck? Lucky cat...

In addition to Jefferson’s observations above, I believe luck could happen because we were at the right place at the right time… unexpected luck. It could also be destined; for instance, two talented musicians audition for a lead singer position in a band. The band agonizes because both are brilliant but they pick one randomly and the chosen one becomes a mega star. Stuff happens and luck isn’t always logical. It doesn’t always reward the hardest workers or the smartest or kindest people… it’s an equal opportunity reward. I remember a keynote speech Donald Trump made at a Real Estate Conference I attended several years ago where he spoke about luck… He said that luck played a big role in his success; on business choices he made, people he met, and decisions he made. Of course we must be focused on whatever we are passionate about and do the work. Like the New York lotto guy says, “Hey, you gotta be in it to win it!”  The Lucky Cat- Maneki Neko above could be around the corner, but you must walk around the corner first. I’m less inclined to believe that every case of great good fortune is a result of hard work, and more inclined to see serendipity at play. The stories above and below might shed some light on the topic, but we all feel somewhat differently about the subject of luck…

Bill Gates – On Luck…
During a town hall interview hosted by CNBC at Columbia University Business School,  a student asked Bill Gates  to reflect on what role “pure luck” played in his success. Gates replied:
“I was lucky in many ways: I was lucky to be born with certain skills. I was lucky to have parents that created an environment where they shared what they were working on and let me to buy as many books as I wanted to, and I was lucky with timing. The invention of the microprocessor was something profound, and it turned out that only if you were young and you were looking at that could you appreciate what that meant. And I was obsessed with writing software, and it turned out that was the key missing thing that allowed the microprocessor to have this incredible impact. So in timing, in skill set, in some of the people I was lucky enough to meet… it’s unusual to have so much luck in one life, but it’s been a major factor in what I’ve been able to do.”

While Bill Gates has had the good fortune to connect with people and interests that have served him well throughout his life, he also focused on his skill set and the timing was perfect. Now if Gates believes in the power of luck, what stops you? More below…

“We all dream a lot – some are lucky, some are not. But if you think it, want it, dream it, then it’s real. You are what you feel.” Tim Rice

Reflections: Do You Believe In Luck? A lucky yellow fortune cat...

Reflections: Do You Believe In Luck? A 1926 Ad for lucky jewelry...

I remember an interview I watched, a while ago, in which both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet spoke about success and wealth. Buffet said something that resonated with me. He said that he always knew he would be wealthy and that it was a matter of time before his vision matched reality. So true! We have our own vision and attitude about life and it shapes our experiences. Our beliefs about our lives, our possibilities, and our abilities are important facets to consider on the subject of luck. The story below looks at belief and its impact on Shreya’s luck (and indirectly on ours).

‘Good Luck Charm’ by Vibha Batra (India)
This is a short story selected for the 2011 New Asian Writing Short Story Anthology
Like most girls, Shreya was crazy about shopping. Much as she loved stacking the shelves of her wardrobe with new buys, she was extremely attached to one particular T-shirt.
As T-shirts go, it was no great shakes. It didn’t have sequins, it didn’t have an unusual print; it didn’t have lace trimmings nor did it have words of sassy wisdom splashed across it. Yet, it enjoyed the pride of place in Shreya’s wardrobe.
There was a reason for this, of course. (Shreya was a reasonable girl.) She believed, from the bottom of her heart, that this T-shirt brought her luck. She had first worn it during the inter-collegiate culturals and a most bizarre thing happened. An out-of-her-league kind of guy, the kind who wouldn’t have tossed her a second look if she had been the only girl alive, had actually asked her out.
She happened to don it again for an elocution contest she had been pushed into by zealous classmates. Needless to say, she was thoroughly unprepared. Unprepared for the competition, unprepared for the magical burst of oratorical ability she magically acquired, unprepared for the thumping victory that followed.
Was it possible that the T-shirt was her lucky charm? Shreya devised an ingenious plan to confirm her suspicions. Exams were right around the corner. For the last paper alone, she decided not to burn the midnight oil. She did away with the books, carelessly chucked the notes, and turned up at the examination hall in, you guessed it, her lucky T-shirt.
Sure enough, the exam was a cakewalk for her. While her friends struggled for an entire three hours, she flew out of the examination hall in a record one and a half hours. She had all the proof she needed. Her T-shirt was her lucky charm, indeed.
Time flew. College was as good as over. Campus placements were a week away. While everyone bit their nails, Shreya polished hers.
Her friends couldn’t make sense of her attitude. Akansha, the most upfront of the lot confronted her, “Shreya, what’s with you, girl? Don’t you care about your future?” Shreya, smothered a yawn and replied, “Sure, I care. I just don’t worry. Like some other people I know.”
The first day of recruitments sprung surprises galore. The top three companies, the ones most students had set their hearts on, stayed away. Left with little choice, disappointed students went in for the second rung companies. Shreya deliberately teamed up a black blazer with a white shirt and fared miserably at all the group discussions.
She knew exactly what she wanted. Nothing but the best. And till that happened, she would wait it out. After four action-packed days, the top three companies finally showed up. Shreya was the only one recruited that day.  ‘Good Luck Charm’ by Vibha Batra via New Asian Writing ***Read the rest on their website

Can you guess what she did? What happened in the end? What about you, what are your thoughts? Do you believe in luck? Have you ever had some lucky thing happen to you? Do share! Thank you. :-)

This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Plinky: Do you believe in luck? How do you think it relates to destiny and coincidence?

Positive Motivation Tip: When luck meets you at your door, embrace it… whatever your belief.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos four leaf clover, lucky cat- maneki neko, Why be unlucky Ad, Lucky yellow cat, via Wikipedia.
Stories: Bad Luck, Good Luck… via Naute.com, Bill Gates via The luck guide,‘Good Luck Charm’ by Vibha Batra via New Asian Writing

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

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40 responses to “Reflections: Do You Believe In Luck?

  1. I believe in luck but we have to pull it by ourselves. :)

  2. I really like Bill Gates’ humility in this instance. So true!

  3. Enjoyed reading this!:) I do believe in luck. Years ago my co-workers were playing a game and we had to invest a little money. Since I didn’t know how to play, I said, ” I would like game 7 on Friday,” which was written out in my supervisor’s list; my supervisor, told me “no, you need to pick out a folded paper from the basket which has the day and game number,” and I did this. It turns out the folded paper I selected was game 7 on Friday! On Monday, I walked into the office and it turns out I won money. I had no clue what the rules of the games were. LOL. I just took a chance and Lady Luck was kind.

    BTW, I found your your comments Jonel’s post on enlightenment, so peeked at your blog and like the topics your write about. :)

  4. I don’t really believe in luck, but I don’t believe in destiny either.

  5. I like to think that Luck is real, and Miracle are real. If we stay positive they have to stay in our path. It’s if we neglect ourselves the true meaning of them that we miss the signs in our path.

  6. once I had one of those golden “lucky cats” from China – and gave it to a little girl, who was fascinated by the (battery driven) hand waving. now I have not less luck, but the little girl maybe more?

  7. I believe luck is a state of mind. You put yourself out there time and again and get involved. Each time you learn more, see more, listen more which leads to …more. Then we make judgments — that’s such ‘good’ luck or ‘what bad luck’ – yet like the farmer story implies – it’s how the story unfolds that matters. What does it matter if someone wins the lottery but ends up getting cheated and broke and sad in the end?

    Wonderful post!

  8. On the one hand, Gates WAS lucky. He happened to attend a school where a teacher sparked his interests. But then, studies have shown that people who see themselves as the master of their destiny tend to be more successful than those who see something outside of themselves (fate, God, luck) as the master of their destiny. I don’t know which is true, but in the meantime I’m not going to sit on my behind and wait for an answer either.

    • TY for your feedback. I believe in a combination of factors as far as luck is concerned. There are people who fell into their success, so I’m not convinced that all success or luck come from hard work. Working hard makes us feel good but it doesn’t always make us successful.. Of course, there are different definitions of success.

    • Another thing I remember reading that made me chuckle is a comment I read somewhere that said, “People call themselves masters of their destiny when good things happen to them, but blame others when bad things happen…” ;-)

  9. Oh yeah, I believe in luck. I usually seem to find pennies on the ground as I am bike riding. If its on tails, I refuse to pick them up. They cause bad luck. I don’t know if I have receieved the luck from the pennies I found. It’s hard to tell. There is hope that I will be successful at my future career that it may turn to a million-dollar industry if I am good at it. I really want to be a millionaire someday, I mean, it will happen. I just know it. Bill Gates is like, my main guy! Everyone who wants to make software and go into other computer fields look down on him.

    • I believe in luck too and it has worked in my life… Of course, it is important to live your life, have a life, work at your life and all, but I do believe that luck does shine on people; some have the Midas touch while others have the muddy touch. I think where people are mistaken is when they think that believing in destiny means giving up on working at your goals. If anything, believe your destiny is bright and then work towards that vision. Best wishes on your career goals. ;-)
      Like you I pick up money on the street; usually pennies and sometimes dimes as I like to call them pennies from heaven… I believe it means something fortunate is coming my way… You know? Every time that happens, something fortunate happens to me… Love it! TY! :-)

  10. I love the story of the tee-shirt! It really makes you think. If you have all the good luck in the world, but you don’t rely on your ability, eventually your self-doubt will stain all that you acquire through that “luck” and leave you unhappy. Luck is a great novelty when it’s sprinkled in life like a spice to enhance flavors. But when luck becomes your only way to spice it up, what’s left of life becomes very bland, don’t you think? ;)

    • I enjoyed the T-shirt story too because the way I read it was that if we really had full control over the results that come into our lives, eventually we will find the experience unnerving.
      Shreya was pointing out how our idea that we control all of what happens to us is flawed; the self-made man, the masters of destiny and so on believe whatever they wish to believe and then life happens. I believe being positive and having hope, faith, and working towards our goals are very important. The rest, how the chips fall, is a mystery.
      “Luck is a great novelty when it’s sprinkled in life like a spice to enhance flavors.” True! That is the way we experience luck anyway. We know what happened to Midas and so we don’t have a full hand in deciding our luck. If we did, all psychics will be billionaires… or maybe the ones that want to be wealthy. TY! :-)

  11. I believe luck can be a result of a combination of factors; sheer good fortune, hard work, destiny, serendipity, and synchronicity; not necessarily all together.

    I agree. Sometimes the smarter we work . . . the “luckier” we get. In those instances, our luck is the RESULT of the positive choices we have made.

    Other times, dumb luck just hands us something on a silver platter.

    • If you’re interested: nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/

    • I believe in working smart not just hard too, but hard work seems to be the popular term that folk like to use… I also believe in POSITIVE choices and mindsets; something you and I believe… ;-)
      In my own life, I have seen the result of having a positive outlook. Stuff still happens but the good always outweighs the not so good. :-)
      I had to laugh at your dumb luck line… I’ll take some of that any day too! TY! :lol:

  12. I like the Jefferson quote. I believe when you start using the gifts you were given, like Gates story, your ‘luck’ improves.

    • It sure does… for many. Yet, I can’t stop thinking of the great masters whose work were not appreciated and they died in abject poverty… We still have starving artists; brilliant writers included… What happened to their luck? It’s great when vision meets reality… but it doesn’t always. TY! :-)

  13. I do believe in luck, but I must say that preparation makes the opportunity more realistic. Great post!!!

    • Preparation is important and belief in self too. You know, I was thinking of Iyanla Van Zant who said in an interview with Oprah that she wasn’t ready when the big gigs and big money started flying her way… Also some celebs who freak out over mega success… So mental preparation, belief in self, and skill help. TY! :-)

  14. Yes, I believe in luck. And it’s just as Jefferson says. I am probably one of the luckiest people I know–that’s why my sister hates me . . . Being in the right place at the right time? Perhaps.

    • Good for you lady and I do believe in luck too. As I said in my post, I believe luck can be a result of a combination of factors; sheer good fortune, hard work, destiny, serendipity, and synchronicity; not necessarily all together. I also need to add belief in self to the list. There are talented people out there who don’t believe in their abilities and it impacts their lives. Also believing in yourself doesn’t mean everyone will agree or believe in you, but it must begin with you. TY! :-)

  15. Interesting question. I’m not sure I believe in luck so much as timing and the ability to recognise opportunities and take advantage of them.

    Take Bill Gates, for example. Had it not been the microprocessor, it may have been something else. HE was the one who recognised the potential and ran with it, successfully.

    • Timing and ability are factors that Gates included in his remark on his lucky streak. I believe we need those too however they alone are not enough. We also need that X factor to hit a home run and that is where luck comes into play.
      You know something else Robin, as I was reading up on the subject, it occurred to me that many celebs, super wealthy folk, successful folk believe in luck, good fortune, God’s grace…and speak about it openly. Interesting eh? I believe in luck as a combination of factors for sure! TY! :-)

  16. I have to believe in luck because the numerous amount of wonderful women in my life is so staggering, that it could only be luck.

  17. I suggest a combination of Seneca and Trust.

    And else: “When it’s raining manna, don’t open your umbrella – open your mouth.”

    (Source? Sorry, I don’t remember where I’ve read that, and I can’t find it on the internet.)

  18. I like both ideas too… Trust is another way I would say belief in self and that is true. If we don’t trust the process and do the work then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. TY! :-)

  19. I like the saying, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
    I believe we all have luck. Some people because of their hard work and a ‘lucky’ attitude, have more.

  20. Pingback: Reflections: Que Sera Sera… | Mirth and Motivation

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