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  • Carroll Devine

Some Call It Luck

My friend Walt who has achieved tremendous financial and career success, tells me it’s aggravating when people say he “just got lucky.”

He came from a low income working class background in a large family and he was driven even from his pre-teen years to succeed. He always looked for and found, or made ways to accomplish his goals, working tirelessly, sacrificing personal or social time along the way. No matter what “misfortune” or disasters came his way, or if some ventures didn’t work out, he determined to use the lessons he learned from them to build something else. Walt is a true believer that luck is what happens at the intersection of preparation, dedication, and opportunity. I would call him an optimistic realist.

But, it’s much more than “positive thinking.” It’s my belief that we all start out with, or acquire early in our lives, certain premises around which we build our lives and then spend our lives “proving” to ourselves that we are right. Self-fulfilling prophecies. Simply put, some people believe that for whatever its shortcomings and trials, life is good and good will prevail. They will find ways to do what they need to do. They consider themselves fortunate, in spite of whatever happens. Others believe that life is essentially rotten and unfair, that no matter what they do, they’ll be knocked down and defeated. Their bad luck is usually somebody else’s fault. They consider themselves to be “unlucky.” You probably know people you love on both ends of the spectrum.

What is it that makes one person lucky and one unlucky? According to studies conducted by psychologist Richard Wiseman, it has less to do with actual "luck" than a person’s general outlook. In one study in which he tested both “lucky” and “unlucky” people, he determined that one factor may be that unlucky people tend to miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. On the other hand, lucky people tend to be more relaxed and open to seeing what is there in front of them.

The findings of a scientific project exploring the luck issue led Dr. Wiseman to develop techniques that enable individuals to enhance their own good fortune.

They are based on four principles that lucky people use to do so.

One: Maximize Chance Opportunities. Two: Listen to Lucky Hunches. Three: Expect Good Fortune. Four: Turn Bad Luck to Good.

Check out for Dr. Wiseman’s article on the psychology of opportunity, and see more on this issue at

It’s almost spring – a time when clover pops up almost anywhere it’s allowed – and a time when I usually interrupt my walks to search for the four-leafed ones. I always expect to find some, and I often do. It must be the luck of the Irish. What do you think?

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