One of the reasons that we deny the role of luck is that it acts as a cold counterbalance to the notion of hard work. At every stage in our lives we are taught that the best way to make our way in the world is by hard work, tenacity, and grit. And while I believe there is a lot of truth to this, it also causes some perverse consequences.
For instance, when we’re successful, we’re hesitant or even ashamed to admit that luck played a role because we somehow feel that diminishes what was under our control. Conversely, if we’re hit with bad luck, it’s culturally reinforced that that was our own fault. We’re led to believe that we’re responsible for outcomes not process, when in fact just the opposite is true.
We are culturally conditioned to deny the role of luck because of its impact on our search for meaning.
In How to Get Lucky, Max Gunther explains:
This is the “tragic flaw” theory — nothing bad ever happens because of luck but rather because people deserve it.
How to Get Lucky goes on to explore 13 ways to improve your luck.
This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.
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