How Luck Happens Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: How Luck Happens shows you how to foster your own luck by creating the conditions for it to manifest itself in your work, love and all other aspects of life.

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Luck is the same as chance, isn’t it? Something that doesn’t depend on us, right?

Well, maybe not. According to Janis Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh, luck is a combination of talent, chance, and hard work. Three ingredients that need to align, like three cherries in an old-fashioned slot machine.

The surprising discovery these two researchers made is that each of these three ingredients is something you can work on or create the conditions for. In How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life, they show you how to do just that.

By analyzing the lives of so-called lucky people, the authors show that being lucky is much more about spotting and grabbing opportunities than being born with a gift, committing to your goals, and not being fatalistic.

As Emily Dickinson said, “luck isn’t chance, it’s hard work.” Here are 3 concepts from the book that may change your life:

  1. If you’re changing the status quo, you’ll need to persist until people learn to see.
  2. Follow the trail of opportunities, even if it leads to a place far away.
  3. Connect to the power of other people to expand your own and get what you want.

Let’s see how you can make your own luck!

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Lesson 1: When you’re innovating, persistence is often the most crucial factor in long-term success.

Luck manifests itself to people who trust their ideas and are persistent.

John Grisham had to submit his first legal thriller to 28 publishers before finding a small house who accepted it. 28! He was just about to burn the manuscript of his rejected book when a friend convinced him to try one more time. Today, he has sold millions of copies and many successful movies were based on his books.

Even J. K. Rowling had to face twelve rejections for her first Harry Potter book. Finally, she got an advance of 1500 £ and could print her first 1000 copies, the beginning of the fortune we all know now. Was it just chance?

New ideas can look ridiculous to people who’ve spent a lifetime maintaining the status quo, which is why persistence is all-important. Just ask Dick Fosbury.

Dick Fosbury tried different sports but wasn’t very good at any of them. One of them was high jump. At first, he didn’t have good results jumping the way everybody else used to. One day, he invented his own technique: he went over the bar headfirst and backward. Today, this is called the Fosbury flop.

He kept practicing his own way, getting better and better while other people made fun of him. Even when he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1968, journalists and coaches kept advising people against jumping backward as he did. Luckily, they didn’t listen, and since 1972 every high jump gold medal winner has been a Fosbury flopper.

Lesson 2: Skate to where the puck will be – in order to take opportunities, you need to go where they are.

When asked how he could score so many goals, ice hockey champion and all-time legend Wayne Gretzky always gave the same answer: “I skate to where the puck will be.”

When a young Harrison Ford moved to L.A. to become an actor, he first worked as a carpenter in the house of a very young director. That young director was none other than George Lucas, who eventually cast him in Star Wars, a movie that would supposedly be very unsuccessful. But we all know what’s happened since.

What about Charlize Theron? She moved from Australia to Italy and then to the U.S.A. to become a dancer. She couldn’t make it because her knees gave out and she became very depressed. However, just when she was about to give up and go back to Australia, a talent agent noticed her and launched her as an actress.

We can also learn from young and broke Aristotle Onassis, who couldn’t afford to have lunch in the most expensive hotels in his city but kept going there and ordering tea. He truly believed that if you want to be rich, you need to go where rich people are. It seems he was right. Eventually, he went from being the child of a poor, struggling family to one of the richest men of his times, owning the largest privately owned shipping fleet in the world.

If you want to get lucky, you need to be in the right place at the right time. So step outside of your comfort zone and into places where opportunities are all around you.

Lesson 3: Extend your own power by connecting to that of other people.

To create chance, connections are essential. When you know your luck depends on someone doing something for you, you can ask for their help. What’s more, getting in touch with as many people you will also generate opportunities that you won’t even think of.

Your family and friends can support you in life, but when it comes to getting lucky, the most important connections are often the weak ones: people you see once in a while, who are likely to have different friends and colleagues than you.

Sree Sreenivasan, who managed to get his dream job using his big social media network, suggests you be very clear with people about the help you need. Then, the more people you know, the faster and wider your message will spread.

Maybe, you shouldn’t miss so many parties after all! Just be aware that not every crowded place is the same. It’s more likely that you’ll get to know interesting people at your friend’s marriage with a hundred guests than at a concert with 20,000 spectators.

Talking with people can also uncover possibilities that you hadn’t even thought of. For example, you might catch useful ideas or information while drinking a beer with someone. In fact, the more interconnected we are, the more innovative we become.

Talk to the person next to you on the plane, start meeting people from new networks, and help others find their own luck. You’ll soon see: one thing always leads to another.

How Luck Happens Review

How Luck Happens is a must-read for anyone who has felt unlucky in his or her life. Especially if you’re convinced you’ve had fewer opportunities than you deserved. It’s also a great read for those who are tired of trying and want to give up. This book will give you hope and lots of suggestions to create all the conditions needed for luck to manifest itself.

Who would I recommend the How Luck Happens summary to?

The 18-year-old who thinks it’s not worth to try to follow his passion, the 30-year-old who is overworking and neglecting connections, and anyone who’s unsatisfied, buthas never really dared to try a new path.

Last Updated on August 16, 2022

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Clara Lobina

Clara is a SEO content strategist, writer, and proofreader from Sardinia, Italy. She is a cofounder, head of content, and COO of Botteega, a delivery service for local goods from high-quality shops and farmers. Clara wrote a total of 16 summaries for us. When she's not working on her own or her client's blogs, she teaches and does yoga. My favorite project of hers is Come L'Acqua — "Like Water" — a personal growth and mindfulness blog (in Italian).