We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, March 18. 2015
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HA! I teach our sales and operations teams about 'luck', and use Branch Rickey's "Luck is the residue of good planning" as my guide.
We do make our own luck, but this is distinguished from what I call "blind luck." "Blind luck" is winning the lottery. Just buying the ticket isn't me making myself lucky, it's just putting me in a position to have fate bestow a windfall.
Some people feel just putting yourself in a position to get lucky is making luck. It's not. You can pay a great deal of money over time putting yourself in that position and never get a payout - so then you're not really lucky or making luck. You're just wasting money and being unlucky.
On the other hand, making luck requires the acknowledgement that what you're doing can have positive and beneficial results for all involved (in life endeavors) or is putting yourself in a position to get what you need (in poker, LOL).
In life, I continually introduce people I know who have good ideas with others who may benefit from those ideas. Sometimes, it pays off. I've seen 3 people get investors in their start up businesses from my introductions - they got 'lucky' because they put themselves in a position to generate that 'luck'.
I make the introductions in the hopes that someday one of these companies will really pay off and I'll either get the job of my dreams or be part of a significant stock offer. That has happened once, though the stock went public only 2 months prior to the 2001 crash - so I broke even. But making these introductions, and staying friendly with innovative and forward thinking folk put me in a position to "be lucky" at some future date.
Taking Branch Rickey's point a step further, if you think of a battle plan and generals preparing for it, Patton was famous for realizing that nothing goes to plan and that having the best people in place to make good tactical decisions in the course of battle is what makes the difference. For him, and many others, luck was indeed the residue of planning ahead. His plan may not have matched the reality, but his planners were in places to take advantage of the situations created by planning ahead.
In poker, and this plays a role in life at times, you can hold unsuited Ace King and flop Ace King Jack. 2 pairs - but if you play slow you can draw the opposition in. A Queen at the turn , continue to play slow and a King at the river and you have your Full House without losing many bettors.
If you're not careful, though, your opposition could have pocket Aces and their Full House trumps yours. But you put yourself in a position to be lucky - and sometimes it just doesn't pay off. We call that a "Bad Beat" - and you can't gauge your performance on that. You put yourself in a position to win, and that's how you generate the luck.
I learned about luck at cards when I was 8 or 9. We would play a little poker for pennies, nickles and dimes. I would never win and one of my best friends usually did. I learned my lesson and I gave up gambling and never have since in spite of having lived in Las Vegas for awhile. My friend still gambles and travels to Las Vegas every year. He is still a great and close friend but he has nothing, he gambled it all away. He was often lucky but like most gamblers he played it away or spent it. At 72 he still works and still gambles.
Yes we do sometimes "make" our luck but to depend on luck or even think of success in that way is a mistake.
Again, it's a question of how you define 'luck'. Relying on the cards or the dice contains an element of blind luck.
Being able to calculate your odds, and minimize risk while maximizing return is critical.
Poker is gambling. But it's also skill. Refer to my example above - while the risk of being beaten exists, it's possible to play a strong hand to maximum advantage.
That is what we mean by making luck, when you understand your situation and maximize the outcome.
Another way we make our luck, as I pointed out, is putting yourself in a position to gain. My example of maintaining relationships and providing introductions offers me the potential of one day receiving a very beneficial and meaningful phone call.
I forgot there was another kind of luck...
I once told someone (at my first job - I was 22, she was 23) that if she wanted her own business, she should start saving 10% of her gross income and in a few years she'd have a tidy sum.
20 years later, my brother ran into her at a store. She had a thriving business and said "tell your brother I owe him, I followed his advice and now I own my own graphic design shop." Now, I see two kinds of luck here. First, she got lucky by meeting me and taking my advice and it worked for her. Second, had I maintained my relationship with her, I may have benefited somehow (financially? with a job? improved contacts in the industry?) because she felt she 'owed' me something.
I have another example of making your own luck. It's not good. I had a neighbor on the third floor of my second apartment. Two obese people. He had a lavalier around his neck at all times with his keys and a nail clipper on it. He frequently went unshaven. So these two cut quite an image to start.
To make it worse, he loses his job. He sits on the front stoop every day complaining about how he was "done wrong" but hasn't done much to clean up his act or find a new job. Guess she made enough for both of them.
One day it's snowing. It's trash day. He opens the window and tosses his plastic bags down 3 stories to the street, where they break open. He doesn't go down to clean it - the super will handle it.
He decides he wants a dog, gets a black lab and doesn't train it. It messes everywhere. By now the people in the complex hate this guy. The dog really likes the 91 year old guy next door, one day jumps on him, knocks him down and breaks his hip. Obese guy gets sued and has to declare bankruptcy and loses the dog and sits on front step and complains how life done him wrong.
After that final event, my wife said to me "I've never agreed with your premise that you make your own luck, but now I agree 100%. Attitude and behavior really do play a role in your situation in life. You can make your own luck."
I do agree. I can be "lucky" in the sense that I prepare and look for opportunities and take advantage of them when they present themselves. I cannot, probably, ever be a "lucky" poker player because I'm too conservative/careful. Whereas my friend could care less if he lost and only thought about playing the game to the best of his ability and winning the next hand. I on the other hand remembered every penny, nickle and dime I lost and it bothered me, still does. My friend indeed made his luck and would bluff on a hand without even a pair of dueces. This can and does work for a lot of things in life. I can't go there, it isn't me. I have to be in control, know what is going to happen and study and plan until I'm confident.
"All life is 6-5 against." Damon Runyon
Best book on luck I've ever read is called "The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing" by Michael Mauboussin