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Do You Believe in Luck?

Do You Believe in Luck?

Jane C. Woods

Do you believe in luck? Do you think you are a lucky or an unlucky person? Is there such a thing as a luck factor and if so where can you get it? Read on…

Recently I met up with a participant from one of my training events. She told me that she had just got her doctorate and went on to say how much my course had helped motivate her. I warmly congratulated her on her achievement, and she replied that she had been lucky. Lucky? I had to disagree.

She had worked really hard for every bit of that PhD, staying up late at night to study and managing to do a high powered day job really well to boot! She also had the support of friends, family and colleagues, which she described as ‘luck’, but which is freely given because she is a lovely person who helps others out whenever she can and receives help and good will in return. Her actions had caused her good ‘luck’.

The Luck Myth

We often describe events as ‘our good luck’ when actually they are the result of hard work and preparation. Conversely, we sometimes deplore our bad luck when things don’t go our way. Either way we are absolving ourselves from any responsibility in the matter. Random events do occur over which we have no apparent control, but, we do have control over how we respond to them and that, research has found, is what makes the difference between people who consider themselves lucky or unlucky.

Can You Make Yourself Lucky?

Well, the research would suggest that you can. My own experience of working with people over many years certainly bears this out. If you can change your habitual, unproductive (unlucky!) way of thinking you can change your behaviour. Changing your behaviour can produce a different result, one that you want and might just call lucky!


Dr Richard Wiseman spent several years researching with people who called themselves either lucky or unlucky. He and his team discovered some fascinating differences in how the two groups thought and behaved. People who described themselves as lucky were creating their own luck (like my PhD Friend) through their mental attitudes and behaviour. Having identified some basic principles about changing thoughts and behaviours the team then went on to teach these principles to the ones who considered themselves unlucky.

Almost all the participants reported significant life changes including increased levels of luck, confidence and success.

Try This!

When training, I often play the Pollyanna game and would like to share it with you. In brief, the game involves looking for the positives in anything bad or unlucky that has happened. I usually do this in the context of managing change in the workplace but you can apply it to anything. For example, getting a dismissal notice is usually not great news but, if for a few moments, people can allow themselves to think creatively of all the possible good that might flow from it, like a new job with new friends, the opportunity to learn a new skill, create the perfect garden, use the time getting fit, and so on they can often turn their negative thought patterns around. Lucky people play this game all the time.

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