Luck is real – as much as the highly self-critical don’t want to admit it. We tend to see luck as an indulgence, wanting to take responsibility for everything. ‘A person makes their own luck,’ I used to think. Clearly, it isn’t always the case.
We could apply for a job at the same time as a disproportionately high number of other smart, capable candidates, whose experience matches ours. Or have unexpectedly bad weather on a carefully selected vacation spot.
Sometimes we don’t get what we want, even on our best game. Luck – or fortune, or fate, or whatever you want to call it – is a genuine feature of existence. The Universe is a random place.
Do you ever wish a person ‘good luck’? It is a blessing, isn’t it; sort of ‘may your heart’s desire transpire.’ If you have ever uttered those words, then deep down a part of you defers to the forces unknown, capable of scuppering even the best-laid plans.
too much responsibility
When we fail, we tend towards one of two extremes: self-pity, where we tell ourselves that the situation was exclusively everyone else’s fault; and self-flagellation, where we blame ourselves and tell ourselves how stupid we were. And from what I can see, self-flagellation is the greater risk.
Taking responsibility is good. It is one of the antidotes to two very universal self deceptions: firstly, that we deserve things without working for them; and second, learned unworthiness. But responsibility has its limits, and we definitely breach those when we say ‘there’s no such thing as luck.’
We aren’t responsible for every little thing happening. It should be obvious, but for some reason, it isn’t.
what about law of attraction?
Law of attraction is the so-called universal law which says thoughts become things. The teaching assists many of us in becoming more aware of our thoughts. But it doesn’t help when bad stuff happens. At such times it’s time for the other, less sexy, universal law: trusting the process.
self-compassion: permission to make mistakes
Admitting to bad luck is fundamentally an exercise in everyone’s most under-used muscle: self-compassion.
Why are we so suspicious of self-compassion? We think that by being kind to ourselves, we might actually relax – which can only mean standards slip, too. Our shortcomings will have free reign.
But excessive self-criticism does not keep failure at bay. It actually undermines performance and ambition. You know you’ve gone too far if your morale is sapped.
Calculated moments of self-compassion aren’t the enemies of progress, they contribute to it. We have failed, but the conclusion does not have to be that we are idiots.
staying motivated – a wiser focus than luck
When it comes to working on things that have an inherent risk of bad luck (which is most things), luck isn’t a helpful focus. Motivation levels benefit from having a sort of unreasonable self-belief. The kind that sustains you through similarly unreasonable demands on your internal resources.
A wiser focus still might be not contemplating the destination at all, but developing a deepening love for the journey. Robert Greene, the author, says there is alive time and dead time. Alive time is time well spent with purpose and intentionality. Dead time is wasted and not put to use.
The lesson is focus on process, not outcome. Then, good luck or bad luck, it actually doesn’t make too much of a difference.
trusting bad luck
A peaceful attitude to adopt is to say ‘all is well’ and mean it at the site of bad luck. This is when you know a great shift within has occurred.
Failures are opportunities to strengthen trust. Trust can turn rejection, abandonment, failure and disappointment into motivation, rather than deterrents.
Trust, as the author Iylana Vanzant says, is a function of choice. And the pillars of trust are a willingness to think far beyond what is revealed to you through you physical senses, and a diligently-kept openness to possibility. In other words, not allowing life’s disappointments to close us down.
bad luck is a question of interpretation
We never really know what’s lucky or unlucky; only that we didn’t get what we thought we wanted, and the explanation is out of reach right now.
It is very difficult to establish with blazing certainty whether what happened was bad. Poorly timed bouts of flu, or negative political results, may have been exactly what the doctor ordered. We can only really know in retrospect.
a cosmic view of bad luck
As a process, life requires us to live in a perpetual state of preparation for the known and the unknown. There are no guarantees about anything, and perhaps least of all that what we put out, we will get back.
Is there a more convincing reason for learning to fall in love with the process?