How luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life by Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh

How Luck Happens

How luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life by Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh lays the groundwork for the new field of luck studies. This is a fine piece of qualitative research that can help you and your kids understand how to lead a luckier and happier life. Parents and leaders alike should read this groundbreaking book to help themselves and everyone they touch.


  • We start with the legend of Harrison Ford who was working as a carpenter at the home of the young director George Lucas who was working on his first film American Graffiti. George got to know him a bit and gave him a small part. The rest is history. Certainly, Mr. Ford got lucky so the big question is how do we make our own luck? The idea is to put enough of the right pieces in place so you can take some of the onus off of random chance. Time to join the thrilling journey of discovery that Janice and Barnaby took during the last year that they claim will help you learn the approaches they uncovered that are almost guaranteed to bring more luck your way.

Part One – Understanding Luck – 1. Prepare to Be Lucky

  • Shortly after their research began, Janice realized that real luck happens at the intersection of chance, talent, and hard work. Chance is never enough. You also need a bias towards action. You have to be willing to try as you focus on the things that you can control. Since this field is brand new, Janice and Barnaby couldn’t comb through existing research. They had to do their own.

2. Some People Have All the Luck—And You Can Be One of Them

  • Most people (67%) think that working hard contributes to lucky outcomes. They (67%) also think that you can get lucky by being curious. Here we have a story about a girl who found a four-leaf clover, a one in 10,000 chance. Her friends told her how lucky she was, but she made her own luck by being persistent and knowing that there would be a lot of failure along the way. Getting the right information is also necessary, which might mean just asking one more question. The most important ability may be to pay attention and notice opportunities. Good attention is also flexible, which allows us to switch between narrow and open focus.

3. Pick the Statistic You Want to Be

  • While about one-third of Americans are obese, this doesn’t mean that your odds of being obese are one out of three. This is a clear example of where you can make your own luck depending on the diet and exercise program you choose. It’s important to take risks, but not all risks are worth taking so you must size up the risks prior to forging ahead. Improbable things are likely to happen and they are not likely to happen to people who don’t spend some time outside of their comfort zone.
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