3 Ways to Attract More Luck Into Your Life
George Mack shares the mental models he's used to bend luck in his favor.
George Mack specializes in growth marketing for e-commerce and tech businesses, and he studies how mental models influence our thinking. Below, Mack shares the thought frameworks he’s used to attract more luck into his life.
There’s a lot that’s been written about games of skill. There’s the 10,000 hour theory. Deliberate practice. Flow state. The list goes on.
In contrast, there’s been little that’s been written about games of luck.
This is because by definition luck is a random event that we can’t control, so we don’t bother discussing it that much. I think there’s a secret hidden in plain sight, though. Luck is partially a game of skill — and you can increase your odds by following the rules of the game.
Here are three ways you can attract more luck into your life.
1. Avoid Boring People
I stole this from Josh Wolfe, who stole it from Jim Watson. The phrase “Avoid boring people” has two meanings. Read it again.
Avoid people that bore you.
Avoid being the boring person in the room.
The more interesting you are, the more interest you get. And the more interest you get, the more opportunities that come your way.
And of course, the more interesting friends you have, the more interest they get. And the more interest they get, the more opportunities will come their way, which will inevitably get passed on to you (as long as you’re not boring).
On a long enough time horizon, it will look like luck. But the act of being interesting to people and having interesting friends helped create those crazy moments of luck.
How to do this? It’s a flywheel.
First, focus on being an interesting person. If this isn’t intuitive, find someone you admire and break down to first principles what makes them interesting. “Command C” and “Command V.” Copy and paste.
The more interesting you get, the more interesting people you will meet. This will then result in you becoming more interesting. Flywheel. Flywheel. Flywheel. The Bezos way.
2. Have A Luck Razor
Let’s explore several mental models.
Occam’s Razor states that if all other factors are equal, you should choose the most simple option. Hanlon’s Razor states that if all other factors are equal, you should attribute bad behavior to stupidity rather than malice.
And then there’s what I call the Luck Razor. If all other factors are equal, choose the path that feels the luckiest.
This is a highly personal one for me. I was supposed to go for a drink with someone cool I met on Twitter. It was standard U.K. winter rainy weather (“Pissing it down” is what we call it). The person texted me before saying, “I’m tired and the weather is awful. I can still do tonight but happy to cancel if you are not up for it?”
When I got this text, I was tired and didn’t feel like commuting one hour in the rain. I wrote back “Let's do another time.”
Before I hit send, I asked myself: “What’s the luckier option? Going and meeting someone interesting or chilling at home watching Netflix?” The answer was obvious when viewed through this frame.
So I went.
Since that drink, two to three opportunities have come directly from that person. And numerous opportunities have come from those opportunities. (And more opportunities from those opportunities, and so on.)
On a long enough time scale, my hourly rate from taking the luckier option that evening has been the best hourly rate of my life so far.
3. Have a Poker Mindset
Roulette is a pure game of luck because you can’t control the outcome. The casino operator spins the wheel, and you get the number the ball lands on.
Poker is a game of luck and skill, in which you can control the outcome. Even though there are factors like the hand you are dealt, you can still use skill to play the hand you are dealt.
The luckiest people I know have a poker mindset — they are obsessed with finding a way to hack the system.
I’d even go so far as to make the following ridiculous statement: Playing a game of roulette thinking it’s poker is better than playing a game of poker thinking it’s roulette.
The person who plays poker with a roulette mindset will lose. They will cause more bad luck by attributing everything to luck and ignoring the influence they have.
The person who plays roulette with a poker mindset will probably turn it into a game of skill on a long enough time horizon.
If they are obsessed with identifying the areas they can control and influence, they’ll ultimately find a way to do it. They may design a chip that sits in the casino’s ball or simply bribe the guy at the wheel. Either way, it’s doable.
Even for games that feel like pure luck, question everything with a poker mindset. You may find a hack that nobody else has discovered because they thought it was roulette.
Step 0 for the first point: “To be interesting, be interested.” - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
I love this post but especially relate to Number 3 now as I am being deliberate in cultivating mental models that develops a poker mindset. I have also been listening to and reading everything Maria Konnikova has to say on this. She articulates very well why poker is a game of skill vs chance where one can win with the worst hand and lose with the best hand. Its fascinating! Her new book "The Biggest Bluff" is excellent (no I am not getting paid to say this!) and I highly recommend it. We all - to varying degrees- suffer from the "self-serving" cognitive bias where there is a marked tendency to (unfairly) blame external forces when bad things happen and to give ourselves (full) credit when good things happen. This is such an unfortunate way to live life and make decisions as we will always protect our self-esteem by being defensive for decisions that do not go our way rather than taking full accountability and ownership. As long as our decision-making framework is solid and bullet-proof, even if small and insignificant things do not go our way, I feel confident that the big and significant ones will definitely go my way.