Reflections: Do You Believe In Luck?
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca
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…
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson
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
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.
- The Taoist Farmer – Good Luck, Bad Luck? Who Knows? (librachronicles.wordpress.com)
- Eat, Drink, and Have Good Luck (fitsugar.com)
- 10 Green Flowers to Bring Good Luck to Your Garden (casasugar.com)
- Do you believe in luck? (cozyblanketsnowflakerepetitioncompulsion.wordpress.com)
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