Real Leaders

Four Behaviors For Creating Opportunity

Do you consider yourself lucky? Did you know that some people are actually far luckier than others? Do you believe you could become luckier?

Researcher Richard Wiseman, The Luck Factor, used social experiments to identify why some people have consistently more positive opportunities than others. These are the people we consider lucky. Wiseman discovered that the old idea of carrying a rabbit’s foot in your pocket to improve your luck actually works… on one condition.

You have to believe the rabbit’s foot will make you lucky and that belief has to change your behavior. Of course, it’s not the rabbit’s foot but your inner optimism that creates good fortune.

There are four human behaviors that create luck and a stream of positive opportunities.

1. Constantly Scan for Opportunity Relevant to Your Values and Goals

You must be careful what you wish for. Your wishes create a mental filter that focuses your attention and actions that you believe will lead to wish fulfillment. You see, in our daily lives we are overwhelmed with stimulation. What we see, read, and the people we interact with create so much mental data that we are constantly sorting for threats and opportunities. Unlucky people are extremely threat sensitive, so much of their behavior is to avoid uncertain situations.

This is a problem because new opportunities typically arise dressed in a costume of uncertainty. Fortunate people tend to be smart risk takers. This simply means that when you were presented with the potential opportunity you figure out a “baby steps” strategy that enables you to keep moving toward the opportunity without taking big leaps of faith or reckless risks. So, we make our own luck first by filtering new information for personal opportunity.

2. Pursue Opportunities that Fulfill Your Values

Only pursue opportunities that are consistent with a vision of your future self that fulfills your values and ideals. Everyday people are offered jobs that they are capable of doing that will make them miserable. At the time you are offered such a job you might feel lucky but you’re not. If you are not clear on your ideal future you’re much more likely to be whipsawed by random chance that will ultimately leave you frustrated and exhausted. Your ideal future is fundamentally found at the intersection of your happiest life and most successful career. (And it’s important to recognize that many of us have careers that don’t pay money. Many women have a lifelong career of child raising, nurturing and community volunteerism that is both valuable and fulfilling. 

Unpaid work becomes a career when you dedicate yourself to become excellent at whatever you are investing your mental, emotional, and physical energy into.) Your values determine what’s most important to you. It is that foundation of how you define opportunity. Determining your own values requires self reflection and conversations with people whose only agenda it is to help you become clear on what your soul desires. 

Throughout our life we encounter many well intended “coaches” such as parents, teachers, and friends who are telling us how we should live and what we should do. But you are not here to live someone else’s life. It’s up to you to sort through all the advice you’ve been given and to examine your inner moral compass to get a vision of a life you won’t regret. The path to achieve the vision will be rocky, poorly marked, and you’ll hike up, and descend your life’s path, like following an overgrown mountain trail. Nevertheless progress can only be made through continued movement.

3.  Forward Movement and Creative Grit

What lucky people do is consistently and thoughtfully act on opportunities that are aligned with their future self vision. When they get off track or find themselves lost in a pool of frustration they consult their inner compass and keep moving.

Forward movement is essential because once you decide you are willing to take smart risks to achieve your ideal life the final ingredient to good luck becomes creative GRIT. Grit requires effort.

According to “end of life” research, virtually everyone who gets to their final chapter feeling deeply fulfilled has achieved fulfillment through grit.  If your dream is based on turning your values into a vision of your ideal future…  just don’t give up.

4. Tell People Your Dreams

Finally, continue to tell people your dreams. Wiseman found that the greatest opportunities people get is from strangers. Your circle of family and friends probably already know what you want or perhaps even have a different idea about what you should want. The people who can give you new opportunities are people who don’t know your deepest desires for your life and your work. These may be people you already know or people you need to meet. Either way they will only become aware of how they can link you to new opportunities and people who can help you when they understand your big desires.

The bottom line.

 Lucky people do indeed have more opportunities to find personal fulfillment.

  1. They constantly scan for new opportunities.
  2. They screen their opportunities through their the deeply held, self-selected personal values and vision.
  3. They pursue their visions with Grit.
  4. They tell everyone, at least one new person a day, what they desire for their life and their career to multiply their positive opportunities

So where are you right now? If you have a clear enough picture of your ideal future tell someone new what you’re trying to accomplish.  Don’t expect immediate miracles.  Challenge yourself to tell one new person a day for the next 100 days and see what happens.

Seriously, if you are clear enough on what you want, start talking to the wisest people you know. Talk to people who are living and working in a way that you want to live and work.  Talk to people who don’t have a specific agenda for you. The good news is that you don’t have to be crystal clear on your ideal future, just clear enough to start climbing your way up your trail of life.

Our future needs the life you most want to live. The greatest gift you can give is to pursue your best life.


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