The sign of luck

The sign of luck

Often, when talking to your colleagues at work, friends, family or acquaintances, you’ll hear them speaking about someone else in terms like these: “So and so is so lucky, isn’t he/ she?” This immediately makes you think fortune smiles on the subject of the conversation. But if you take a close look at the reasons he or she is considered so lucky, most of the time you’ll find a set of factors that would point to good luck being more a result of work and attitudes than the whims of fate (which can certainly also play a part, it’s true). It might be helpful here to differentiate two things: luck, on one hand, and good luck on the other.

Luck as the dictionary defines it has to do with coincidence. It’s about circumstances beyond our control that can’t be reproduced by human effort, whose favourable or adverse effects normally short-lived. On the other hand, people who consider they have good luck say it’s self-created: you are the cause of your good luck.

So what, then, are the elements that define people who think they’re blessed by good luck? Here are the most representative of them:

They have a positive attitude towards their experiences, even when these might seem to hinder them or feel difficult or critical. Their optimism comes from clarity and commitment rather than from naivety. In times of adversity, they ask themselves what they have done to contribute to their situations and take action to resolve the circumstances they have brought about.

  • They thus understand that they are responsible for their acts. When they make mistakes or come across difficulties, they don’t blame other people, but instead wonder to what extent they have consciously or unconsciously caused what has happened to them. They ask themselves how they can fix things by using anything from words to acts to improve the situation.
  •  They don’t experience mistakes as blots on their curriculum or something to be ashamed of: they make them a source of continuous learning.
  •  They have a good share of assertiveness and self-esteem. Because of this, they tend to stick to their aims, to persevere and work to create the conditions that will help their wishes appear.
  •  They visualise: they use their imaginations to see their wishes come true. They work with “You have to believe it to see it,” rather than “You have to see it to believe it.”
  •  They persevere: they don’t put off the things they can work out now. When they have things to do, they either do them at once, pass them onto others, or relegate them to the dustbin, but they don’t just shelve them for later.
  •  They tend to attribute constructive meanings to events in their lives. But not as a result of naivety, stupidity or an easy or lukewarm interpretation of them. They do this from a will to build their lives using analysis to help them learn, improve and transform. A similar circumstance might be experienced by different people as a stroke of bad luck, or a gift from life which allows them to open new doors of self-awareness and awareness of others, and more importantly, to act differently to how they were doing: to change. The latter stance is a common trait in makers of good luck.

I’d like to elaborate a little on this last point. Let’s consider an illustrative metaphor. There’s a fable which clearly portrays the essential attitude of a creator of good luck. This is how it goes:

“One day, a spectacularly beautiful stallion decided to come down from the mountains to the village where an elderly peasant lived. The horse went into the old man’s stable and stood there. When the other villagers saw such a fabulous beast drinking and resting in the peasant’s stable, went to tell him. ‘A beautiful young stallion has just gone into your stable! Come and see it!’ The old man’s neighbours pulled him excitedly by the arm to his stable. When they got there, the crowd celebrated his fortune with shouts and jubilation. ‘You’re so lucky!’ they exclaimed. To which the elderly peasant replied, ‘Good luck?… Bad luck?…Who knows…’.

The next day, to the villagers’ surprise, the young stallion headed back into the mountains. Quickly, they ran to tell the old man and say how sorry they were about it. But the old man simply replied again, ‘Good luck?… Bad luck?…Who knows…’.

A week went by, and the stallion came back from the mountains. This time, he was followed by a herd of wild horses. All of them went straight into the elderly peasant’s stable, because the young stallion had recently become the leader of the herd, and the old man always kept his stable supplied with water and food. When the neighbours saw the amazing spectacle, they crowded around the old man’s house and congratulated him, some enthusiastically, some enviously and some admiringly, for his new stroke of good luck. Once again, just as calmly as before, he replied, ‘Good luck?… Bad luck?…Who knows…’ But the villagers didn’t seem to understand his enigmatic answers.

The horses stayed in the stable day after day while the elderly peasant’s youngest son cared for them lovingly. One day, after some weeks, the boy tried to tame one of the wild horses. But the beast was so spirited and strong that he was thrown to the ground and broke his arms and legs. All the villagers heard of the awful accident and took it as a terrible stroke of bad luck. But not the peasant. He simply repeated, ‘Good luck?… Bad luck?…Who knows…’ Once again, his neighbours were mystified.

Weeks later, the army of the nation came marching into the village and took all the able-bodied young man into their ranks. They were to be sent to a horrible war and very few of them would come back alive. But when the soldiers saw that the old man’s son had broken all his limbs, they left him there as he was unable to walk and would have only been a hindrance. Once again the neighbours set off to congratulate the man, his son and the rest of his family for the good news. But once again, the peasant came to the door and merely shrugged, saying, ‘Was it good luck?… Bad luck?…Dear neighbours, who knows!’

Often, interpreting events in the way the story tells can make a lot of sense. Because what might at first seem to be a stroke of bad luck might actually be good luck in disguise. Or things that seem to be good fortune might really end up harming you.

So the best policy might be to just forget about luck –which might be good, bad, or non-existent– and to move forward, creating the circumstances that will allow you to build quality in all its different dimensions: human, in relationships, socially and in your life.


Álex Rovira

Alex Rovira