What Lucky People Do Different

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What Lucky People Do Different

Today’s guest contributor is former Wall Street Journal and Fortune writer, Erik Calonius. Erik collaborated with Dan Ariely on Predictably Irrational and he has a new book out from Penguin Portfolio, Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of  Us.

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A few years ago I was standing in the garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer. I had an excellent guide that autumn morning: Steve Jobs himself. He was showing me where his desk sat in the cramped space; where Woz had his workbench; where they piled the boxes of freshly built Apple I’s.

“Look at this,” he exclaimed, pointing to the far wall. In the corner was a full-page newspaper ad for the Apple I computer, circa 1980. The headline read: What Is A Personal Computer?

Today we certainly know what a personal computer is. We can thank Jobs and the Woz for that.  And thanks to Steve, we also know what an iPod is, what an iPhone is, what an iPad is–not to mention what a Mac is. Thanks, Steve.

The thing we don’t know today concerns Steve himself. Whether this icon in the black turtleneck will overcome his health problems. That question, of course, spills over into the question about Apple Corp itself–whether Apple will thrive—or even endure for long—when Steve Jobs some day leaves. There’s huge speculation about it in the stock market now, evident in the dips and swings of Apple stock over the past few years in reaction to Steve’s continuing battle against pancreatic cancer.

But there’s another other issue at play in Steve’s illness, and Jonathan, I think you raised it your recent post, Dust in the Wind. The post showed a red dumpster beneath your apartment window, where the life’s possession of elderly widows and widowers are dumped on a regular basis when they pass away.  “This is what’s left of someone’s life,” you wrote. “Not the experiences, but the stuff.” Your readers obviously understood the existential question you were raising. So did I: my mother passed a few years ago, and one of the most traumatic events of my life was filling three dumpsters to the top with her stuff following two weekends of estate sales.

Recently I stumbled upon a Stanford graduation address that answers that question surprisingly well. And it’s from Steve Jobs himself. The speech was given in 2005, less than a year after he found out he had cancer. I think that’s why Steve’s remarks were unusually candid and personal.

This is what he said:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool that I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything—all external expectations all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

That’s a blunt confession, especially delivered to an assembly of fresh-faced college graduates. But Jobs offered some prescriptive advice.

“For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Great thought. But how do you “change something?” How do you take the image of your face in the mirror—or the sight of the dumpster down in the street—and change your own life?

Recently I came upon a fascinating study by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire. Wiseman surveyed a number of people and, through a series of questionnaires and interviews, determined which of them considered themselves lucky—or unlucky. He then performed an intriguing experiment: He gave both the “lucky” and the “unlucky” people a newspaper and asked them to look through it and tell him how many photographs were inside. He found that on average the unlucky people took two minutes to count all the photographs, whereas the lucky ones determined the number in a few seconds.

How could the “lucky” people do this? Because they found a message on the second page that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” So why didn’t the unlucky people see it? Because they were so intent on counting all the photographs that they missed the message. Wiseman noted,

“Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner, and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through the newspaper determined to find certain job advertisements and, as a result, miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for.”

I think Steve Jobs would agree wholeheartedly with this. In fact, in his Stanford address he described how he dropped out of Reed College after a mere six months. After that, he said he hung around the campus, slept on the floor in a friend’s room, walked seven miles across town on Sunday nights for a good meal at the Hare Krishna Temple, and took a few classes, whatever he wanted.  It sounds like a waste—like Jobs should have been “counting the photographs” in life rather than meandering about. But as you can imagine, it isn’t true. Says Jobs:

“Reed College at the time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class and learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, and about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.”

Here’s the kicker:

“If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, “ Jobs explained, “the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionately spaced ones. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”

He added,

“Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

So that’s what Jobs means by “changing something.” Not a decision to do this or that, but an emotional choice to keep your mind open. To stop counting the “photographs.” To look around.  To open your eyes and bring real life–raw, untamed and full of promise—into your world.

When we see a dumpster full of stuff, maybe that’s the thought we need to keep in mind. Possessions, after all, are not always a comfort. Sometimes they are a cage.

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Erik Calonius is a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and Fortune. He collaborated with Dan Ariely on “Predictably Irrational.” He has a new book out from Penguin Portfolio, “Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of  Us.” Read more from Erik at Calonius.com



[FTC Disclosure - You should always assume that pretty much every link on this blog is an affiliate link and that if you click it, find something you like and buy it, I'm gonna make some serious money. Now, understand this, I'm not talking chump change, I'm talking huge windfall in commissions, bling up the wazoo and all sorts of other free stuff. I may even be given a mansion and a yacht, though honestly I'd settle most of the time for some organic dark chocolate and clean socks. Oh, and if I mention a book or some other product, just assume I got a review copy of it gratis and that me getting it has completely biased everything I say. Because, books are like a drug to me, put one in my hand and you own my ass. Ethics be damned! K, you've been warned. Huggies and butterflies. ]

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130 responses

130 Responses to “What Lucky People Do Different”

  1. i have always found it interesting to study the habits and thought processes of “lucky” people. A big part of it I think is the fact that they are lucky because they are prepared to take action and then they take action.

    fortune favors the bold.

    brandon

    • Rob says:

      @Brandon,
      ‘they are prepared to take action and then they take action.’

      I agree.
      Even someone who wins the lottery has taken some action.
      When we discount others as being ‘lucky’ we are somehow excusing ourselves to be complacent. It can’t be argued that Jobs, Gates and a few others were in the right place at the right time (covered well in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers). But, few people if given the same opportunity would have accomplished the same. Luck? I don’t think so.
      Pouncing on opportunity? Definitely. Being willing to push through resistance and failure? Well, that is a must.

      Live it LOUD!

  2. People say I’m lucky; I know I’m awake and following my deep intuition. But lately I’ve been dozing a bit. I am smack dab in the middle of this – “you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.”

    It’s an ongoing challenge to stay awake with my eyes wide open. My intention each day is to take notice of the little things that jab or poke or intrigue or compel or annoy or excite. The pokey things may need to go away into that dumpster, the exciting and compelling things always require closer observation.

    Staying open to what makes my heart flutter or sink and paying attention to my internal guidance system is a vital practice as I work to grow my business. No luck involved.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Wow, wow, wow, wow! This is probably one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time! I’m booking marking so I can read multiple times over…..I always say, sometimes I don’t necessarily choose the path I walk in life, but somehow, it always leads me in the right direction. Having faith in the journey is a tough, but crucial lesson to learn

  4. Linsey Knerl says:

    Wow! I needed to hear this today. I’ve also been considered “lucky”, and as a result, have had quite a few “unlucky” people in my life (specifically, family) bad mouth my fortune and assume that it just falls into my lap. I always guessed that it was the result of a mixture of street smarts and the hardest work ethic I can muster, but it’s nice to hear that there may be some other x factor in there, as well. Intuition is invaluable… and you really can’t teach that in any kind of professional school (which may also explain why so many of my “lucky” peers dropped out to pursue some fascinating endeavor while it was still fascinating.)

    Great guest post!

  5. We are all lucky people. We just need to make the choice to be so.

  6. “you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs

    “Life is what happens when you are making other plans”- John Lennon

    It’s important to relax into the randomness of experience, and to not worry that our time is limited. Because we don’t know if our time is limited. Our perception of time in this life is limited.

    It’s somewhere in the space of the perception of limitation and my expected reality of unlimitedness that I relax into the randomness of experience, and then look back and see the dots connect, and indeed, I am lucky.

    Thanks Jonathan. I’m going to buy this book for my kindle.

    • Dom says:

      Bridget – love your comment that our time is not limited, it’s our perception of time that is limited.

  7. Michelle says:

    One of the most inspiring and poignant posts I have read in a long time. Thanks for this article and if ok, I will post this link on my blog as it is a truly amazing piece :)

  8. Jonathan,

    Another great post my friend and I love the attitude of Steve Jobs! He takes something that most people would say, “why in the hell are you taking calligraphy” – what is that going to do for your future and he connected the dots backwards and gave it meaning.

    Isn’t that what life is all about – at the time things are happening, we have no clue why they are happening and most times, we get shaken into depression, sadness, frustration, anger – but once we open our eyes and are open to things like the “lucky” people and we connect the dots – that’s when the AH-HA moments happen and we know if it wasn’t because of that, this would have never happened.

    Living in the possibilities,
    Nancy

  9. “Not a decision to do this or that, but an emotional choice to keep your mind open. To stop counting the “photographs.” To look around. To open your eyes and bring real life–raw, untamed and full of promise—into your world.”

    A big challenge, but a simple decision. I’m learning more and more that the important things in life are easy to identify. It’s the savoring that takes the effort.

    Brilliant reminder.

  10. Doug says:

    Reminds me of the saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

  11. I love Dan Ariely’s work, and I love Steve Job’s work, and this was a very inspiring post.

    I remember reading about that study of lucky people, and it reminded me of the time in my life when I was most serious about meditation practice. I was living at a meditation center and practicing every day anywhere from an hour to 6 hours. Predictably, I was much more relaxed and open.

    And that’s when I experienced exactly what Erik describes here. I suddenly seemed surrounded by serendipity, and there were times when it was downright eerie.

    I’ve been looking for the motivation to increase my meditation practice again, and here it is.

  12. p.s. I’m going to show this post to my daughter who is in process of figuring out “what she wants to do with her life”.

  13. This post helped remind me to stand back and see the bigger picture. I often need to reset and step away from the tiny details I over focus on. Thanks!

  14. Great reminder! The key to luck is being light and open so you receive everything that’s available and are drawn to whatever expands that even more for you. Luck is light as a feather. That’s real power. Force is heavy and blind to other possibilities.

  15. Great post. I don’t consider myself lucky, but I am extremely blessed, because I don’t just look at the clouds, I look at what the clouds produce – an opportunity to grow, to meet people and to appreciate the sun.

    Thanks for this. :)

  16. Jeremy Long says:

    “Possessions, after all, are not always a comfort. Sometimes they are a cage.”

    Beautiful stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Rick says:

    “There is no reason to follow your heart.”

    I hope you’ve omitted a “not” from that last sentence of Mr. Jobs’ Stanford commencement quote!

  18. Dee Relyea says:

    Jonathan,
    Great article. I too came across Steve Job’s Stanford graduation address. I think the first quote you have here ended with: “There is no reason NOT to follow your heart.” He advocates the pursuit of passion–I think you just missed a word there but it changes the intent dramatically.

  19. Bell says:

    “Thought the campus every poster, every label”…

    There are a lot of typos in Mr. Jobs’ quotes that detract from the message this post is trying to convey. Yes I know what was meant vs. what was posted, but I appreciate careful editing since this is a “professional” blog.

    Keep the quality high and you’ll keep my eye from wandering elsewhere.

  20. The dots always connect when we look back at the past. Funny how that works. We’re pattern-seeking creatures, we humans. We make constellations out of everything.

    But that’s because they’re there. Someone once said, “Those who have eyes to see, let them see.”

    I don’t consider myself lucky. I consider myself freakin’ protected.

  21. Bunny says:

    This was a wonderful post filled with tons of meaning for me. First was was the lucky study. I sometimes fit and then sometimes don’t. I have been told I see what others don’t. I’m not very lucky right now as I have closed my business, lost my house and at 53 moved in with my not so fun mother. So came the second message of what if today was my last day. Starting everything over at 53 has gotten me down so many days. But I do step back and have to tell myself… to just take one step forward. You don’t know where it will take you.
    Then the last was about my 19 year old son. He is so lost right now. I’m 700 miles away and broke. I can’t help him with anything except my words. To know that Steve Jobs slept on a friends floor and bummed around for a time gives me hope. I know my son is exceptional…Ok yes I’m his mom. But I have been told that by his teachers his whole life. It gives me hope he will find his way and I just need to relax for his sake and know it will be OK.
    Thanks for knowing all the important things to say.

  22. [...] “You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” Posted by super sal In thought 11Apr 11 What Lucky People Do Different [...]

  23. It’s when you’re not following the well-trodden path that all sorts of roads appear. I am comforted knowing that brilliant people like Steve Jobs spent time “gadding about” and it was precisely that time that yielded meaningful results later on. I feel validated by the study that showed that people who are mindful—not the ones who blindly follow all the rules—are the ones who recognize opportunities.

  24. Linda Peckel says:

    Amazing insights! Life has gotten so hard over the past few years we can get dragged down by it all, and the several messages here really help realign what matters. Today. And what you want from it. We can’t control other people’s agendas, and we can’t predict where a single step will lead. The examples are all very zen. What a great post!

  25. [...] What Lucky People Do Different.  jonathanfields.com [...]

  26. bob says:

    You might consider revising your “FTC disclosure”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. It’s smarmy and pretty stupid, and despite your intent, indicates to a lot of people you’re projecting and may not be worth trusting.

  27. Jeff Stevens says:

    Great article. I just don’t believe in luck any longer. What I do believe in is in always living with intention and doing what you need to do to achieve your goals, regardless of whether you work for someone else or for yourself.

  28. John Sherry says:

    Erik this is sublime. I’ve often thought life is somewhat like gestalt counselling whereby seemingly unconnected experiences are weaved together by the therapist to form one clear picture of the core issues a patient is weighed down by or hurting through. Life is gestalt in much the same manner as events and happenstances gradually come together sometimes decades apart or without much sense except when they finally glue tight to bring a big dea or awesome awareness a la Steve Jobs fonts. Luck is simply seeing the dots that need joining and allowing the imagination to be the pencil.

  29. Another name for the lucky – Life Entrepreneur!

  30. Digital Jedi says:

    [...] working on revamping the site. In the mean time you should go and check out this awesome site:jonathanfields.com. It’s a great place to find some good reads when you have time on your hands. This entry [...]

  31. [...] 原來,這件事情根本就很簡單。今天因緣際會下發現 University of Hertfordshire (赫特福德大學) 的心理學權威 Richard Wiseman (理查‧聰明人威斯曼) 教授在這方面做了很多研究,得到了一些非常有趣的結論。其中一個研究裡面,他先把研究的對象分成兩組,一種是認為自己「幸運」的人,一種是認為自己「不幸」的人。 [...]

  32. Gail says:

    An interesting aspect of this poignant rumination on choices, luck and vision, is the notion of shifting baselines. Most people have short, selective memories and abbreviated expectations, so that as the world around them deteriorates, they do not notice it consciously. They see what they are programmed to see, and their anticipations for the future rely on their most recent experience.

    Thus, as the natural world around us declines – as birds and butterflies disappear, while trees that should live centuries die off, we are all still preoccupied with the stuff that fills the dumpsters.

    Too bad.

  33. Hi Erik,

    Thanks so much for this thought provoking and inspiring post. My dad has been ill lately and the end of his life is probably not far away. Experiencing this part of life (that is, losing a parent) has given me a greater appreciation for the gift of life. It’s also given me courage to be braver about how I’m living my life. I greatly appreciated the reminder that I am already naked; there is no reason not to follow my heart.

    Best wishes,
    Tara

    P.S. Jonathan, I found your FTC warning funny and lighthearted. Your copy of my book is on the way! ;)

  34. It’s always exciting and eye opening to connect the dots backwards and figure out how you got to where you are. Many times you find so many instances where if you did this or that, your business would have never been born.

  35. Zoe says:

    So true, I’ve been going through a transition myself. My partner keeps telling me I’m wasting my time, that I should hurry up and get results.

    I just want to do it at my own pace and do things that are my passion. Help people, going for my dreams. But of course, he doesn’t understand.

    Success to him means riches. Success to me means how many people have I made an impact on.

  36. Mark Freddy Farrell says:

    How do you make God laugh? – Tell him your Plans. Good Luck, Bad Luck. I think it has allot to do with Attitude and Persistence. That was then, this is now. Trying different things, having an open mind, asking, and listening, when you dont know. I find with all thats going on in the world with the Economy and Natural Disasters,- finding “Community”, becoming involved locally, before hitting the Big stage, is where people are now finding their way. Those that were already involved, seem to be coping better than those that dont, or have just started. Giving back, is Business just an extension of “Community”?
    “I see what is there”, “Not what Im looking For”. That in itself could be the Answer? Well it was. Wow, love all those one Liner catch Phrases. “Live the Moment”,Awareness and Attitude, all that Good Stuff. I suppose like everything, its how we as individuals see it, what we DO next, is whats important.

    Cheers,

    Mark Freddy Farrell.

  37. [...] 文章中說了一個故事(這故事Jason也剛好在其他網站看到): [...]

  38. Renu says:

    “you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs
    Very good and inspiring article. Thank you for sharing. Thanks!

  39. Marie davis says:

    Luck is an odd thing. I always call myself lucky, it’s weird things do seem to fall my way. Loran says that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Perhaps that is true? I know sometimes when I’m lucky it is because I’ve put a whole lot of work in beforehand.

  40. [...] from What Lucky People Do Different  by Erik [...]

  41. [...] What Lucky People Do Differently [Jonathan Fields] Tagged:mind hackspsychology [...]

  42. Sukhi says:

    The wonderful thing about life is that we can always model others, their perspectives and learn. I believe that comfort and mediocrity are the killers of dreams. AKA not following your heart regardless of how absurd or ridiculous it initially appears. As Steve says, “the dots will connect, or at least we should trust they will.”

    Great post

  43. [...] I don’t believe i luck myself, there is only chance, and the laws of nature which define events in my book, but to a degree you could say the way you move in life can produce misfortune or luckiness, if that makes any sense, well check out this article that analyzes Lucky People, HERE. [...]

  44. Jack says:

    Is our esteemed author a bit of an idol? I notice most of the comments seem to be from women.

  45. Dennis Tracz says:

    Ever since I won a cowboy six gun on a lucky number at the church bazaar I have considered myself lucky. And it has remained true and I’m 55 this year. Expect to be lucky and you just might be!

  46. [...] What Lucky People Do Different | Jonathan Fields [...]

  47. Najwalaylah says:

    I believe this points out a correlation between believing you are ‘lucky’ and believing what you read (“There are 43…”) in newspapers without checking for yourself.

  48. Doug says:

    Your blog post just inspired mine: “Steve Jobs, Death, and Me” on The Betterment Blog, at http://www.bettermentblog.com/2011/04/12/steve-jobs-death-and-me/

    Thanks.

  49. [...] (Source: http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/what-lucky-people-do-differently/) [...]

  50. Dakota says:

    Although I am young, my ‘luck’ seems to be coming from the years of practicing I’ve done. I’ve taken piano lessons for 9 years.
    People hear me play and will say things like,”I wish I could do that.”
    They can, the same way I did.
    I’m not bragging but just saying that we create what some would term as ‘luck’.
    Thanks.

  51. [...] Edits  I know the title reeks of Chicken Soup but do give it a chance. I enjoyed it. http://www.jonathanfields.com/bl…Suggest edits to the author of this post:BIU     @  I know the [...]

  52. [...] For a full read of the article, look here. [...]

  53. I think lucky people are the ones who do not forget about their destination and they keep struggling to reach it ones get unlucky when he changes his destination in a way when he heading towards another goal.
    For Example, if I have a dream to build a company like Microsoft or Google or something like that I keep struggling to achieve my dream of introducing new trends in IT which have never been introduced if I keep struggling to achieve my this dream i will remain lucky. But, if while struggling I fall in the trap of fame which I will may get when I will be about to reach my destination and suddenly my dreams changes and I start dreaming about money and luxury i will get unlucky very soon :)

  54. [...] http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/what-lucky-people-do-differently/ [...]

  55. Jane says:

    This is really once of the most meaty and inspirational things I’ve read in a while. Thank you for sharing. Lots of great stuff to chew on.

  56. [...] This article gets at something that I’ve observed personally multiple times in life: it seems to take a crisis for most people to crystallize what’s really important in their existence, and that state of mind only lasts a short while. If we can learn how to open our minds, follow our intuition, and “tap in” to that feeling more regularly, we may find our true calling and more joy in life. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool that I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. Share and Enjoy: [...]

  57. [...] @smashingmag An online magazine for professional Web designers and developers. I am into web design and smashing magazine is a great resource. Very nice read: Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else – http://bit.ly/f4TrHO [...]

  58. [...] advice from renowned psychologist Richard Wiseman, via Erik Calonius and my friend Jonathan Fields (whose excellent blog you’ll want to check out). Lucky people are blessed not by good fortune [...]

  59. [...] heel anders te denken over de menselijke invloed op het geluk en ongeluk. Op zijn persoonlijke blog beschrijft hij de dingen die mensen met geluk beter doen dan mensen met ongeluk. Hij refereert naar [...]

  60. [...] What Lucky People Do Differently | Jonathan Fields [...]

  61. [...] What Lucky People Do Different. [...]

  62. [...] of the “lucky” ones? We leave you with this thoughtful post by writer Erik Calonius on what lucky people do differently (via Alexis Grant). Read it…   …and then go write something [...]

  63. Dean Raven says:

    Amazing advice. I consider myself very open minded, but I often think I’m one of the unluckiest people around (though more in the sense of having no good luck, rather than the recipient of bad luck). What I do lack are persistence and passion. I’m trying mindfulness to focus myself more on the present, rather than always thinking about what’s coming next. I already feel more positive, and this article has inspired me to work even harder at it.

  64. [...] 17 April 2011Success is a continuous journey (Richard St. John)What lucky people do differently (Jonathan Fields)The power of words (PurpleFeather)How to remember the names of people you meet (Fast Company)Is [...]

  65. [...] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LUCK The loser’s guide to getting lucky What Lucky People Do Different What Lucky People Do Differently than Unlucky [...]

  66. Danny BLoom says:

    Lucky to be alive, 1949-2032……..SIGH

  67. [...] What Lucky People Do Different, Erik Calonius [article] luck, success, Steve Jobs, opportunities, keeping an open mind [...]

  68. [...] What Lucky People Do Differently (jonathanfields.com) [...]

  69. Marius Visser says:

    I don’t consider myself lucky at all. (Not particularly unlucky either.) But apparently this article filled me with severe negativity and depression. It wasn’t a bad article, and I can see why it would be inspirational to some, but I believe those who do find it such already consider themselves lucky.

    I think the distinction should be between positive experiences and negative ones. I wake up every morning and say “No” in the mirror, but I don’t see what options I have, or what changes I can make. I think those who have never been in positions where they feel out of control of their lives can truly understand, and if you do feel in control, yes, you ARE lucky, and articles like this only serve to make the rest of us feel like even bigger failures.

    This holds with blaming the victim: that mentality that everyone get what they deserve.

    Thanks.

  70. Danny Bloom says:

    Jonathan and Eric, I noticed that after two readers commented above about some typos (atomic typos, too, words that spell cannot “see” — google the term) — you were good enough to CORRECT those typing/keyboarding mistakes and to restore the original quote by Mr Jobs to its rightful meaning and text. Good on ya, mates, for taking readers’ comments seriously and taking the time to correct the online text to that future readers who came to the site later could read the correct words. You showed real sincerity and responsibility to your readers. Unlike the NYTimes and the Boston Phoenix items below:

    What do Frank Rich of the New York Times and James Gleick appearing
    in the Boston Phoenix have in common? They all either perpetrated typos
    or content gaffes or were grossly
    misquoted in published interviews, and none of the mistakes have been
    corrected yet where they appeared
    online. Internet posterity will look back and say, perhaps: Why did
    nobody ever bother to correct those online mistakes
    even when they were pointed out by readers and comment posts? Was
    everyone asleep at the wheel when those
    typos and gaffes were committed?

    Well, not all typos go uncorrected. Many websites will correct mistakes
    that are pointed out to them, and will do so
    gladly — thanking readers for taking the time to write in as well.

    But for a growing number of online news sites, from the
    New York Times to the Boston Phoenix, from the Economist to the
    Gruandia, many typos are allowed to stay up — forever! — without
    ever being
    corrected. This is not the way the internet was supposed to be.

    The internet was supposed to be responsive, user-friendly, utopian.
    But it turns out that in many cases the
    internet is turning out to be unresponsive, user-cold and dystopian.

  71. [...] What Lucky People Do Different? Be open to new experiences, embrace uncertainty, and if all else fails just show up. You make your own luck [...]

  72. [...] Who else has signed off on this philosophy? Steve Jobs. In a commencement speech at Stanford, he told students that the present is for enjoying: For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were [...]

  73. [...] As you cruise your wormholes, consider this. [...]

  74. [...] recently read a blog post about what makes some people luckier, and by extension more successful, than others. It was guest [...]

  75. [...] Gain (Bloomberg) • The Sharing Economy (Fast Company) • What Lucky People Do Different (Jonathan Fields) • Rude Boys: The birth of the Beastie Boys—an oral history on the 25th anniversary of Licensed [...]

  76. [...] Gain (Bloomberg) • The Sharing Economy (Fast Company) • What Lucky People Do Different (Jonathan Fields) • Rude Boys: The birth of the Beastie Boys—an oral history on the 25th anniversary of [...]

  77. [...] author Erik Calonious’ article about the psychology of lucky people (the article appeared on Jonathan Fields’ blog, which I found via Psychology Today): “[Psychologist Richard Wiseman] surveyed a number of [...]

  78. Julie Daley says:

    “Ethics be damned! K, you’ve been warned. Huggies and butterflies.” ha.
    beautifully written, circling back, bringing many wise things together. especially about connecting the dots can only be done looking back. i know this so well. the intellect wants to think it is different, but i know it is not. there is a beauty in simply feeling our way into the future.
    thanks for a great post,
    julie

  79. [...] I subscribe to a lot of blogs and newsletters.  I just love reading and absorbing new information (which might explain why I go for days without posting – you can safely assume I am taking in the world ). One of the newsletters that I have been a long time subscriber to has just released this amazing post: "What lucky people do differently". [...]

  80. [...] What Lucky People Do Different I've read this and I still don't get half of it Email Previous postDaily Links: April 29, 2011 [...]

  81. [...] 2. I don’t believe in luck. I think we make our own luck, but I’m not sure I could ever capture what exactly I mean by that the way Erik Calonius did in a guest post on the Jonathan Fields blog. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on What Lucky People Do Differently. [...]

  82. [...] 5, 2011 by Amy Sundberg I read this fascinating article about luck a few weeks ago, but I’ve been saving my discussion of it until after my luck story came out [...]

  83. gitel says:

    Great article. I would have liked it better if the title were “What Lucky People Do Differently.”

  84. [...] This is a fantastic post written by Erik Calonius on Jonathan Fields’ website. [...]

  85. [...] What Books Will Become Lady Gaga: A Psalmist’s Perspective Should I Desire a Reward? What Lucky People Do Different “Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something [...]

  86. Bruce says:

    Unless of course you suffer from depression. Have no self confidence, have tried to kill yourself. Facing death doesn’t mean anything. It simply means that you know for a fact that there’s nothing for you.

  87. Hugo says:

    the cynic in me has to mention that for the one Steve Jobs that makes it there are countless others who “live life as though it is their last day” who end up on in the gutter.
    I just can’t help but see that even when Steve was dropping out of college he was already EXTREMELY lucky, lucky to have been born in the right place, lucky to have had parents who supported him in his endeavors even if they were not “mainstream”.
    And what’s with the gratuitous jab at Microsoft, does Steve really think he’s the inventor of fonts? He’s not lucky, just at the right place at the right time with the right resources.

  88. Glenda says:

    What a great post. It was so inspirational and true! Thanks

  89. [...] if you are looking for the original source for the article, see What Lucky People Do Different, [...]

  90. Andrew says:

    The title is the most important part of an article. It helps people determine whether they want to take the time to read the whole thing. And you desperately need an adverb in your title. “differently”

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      The title is a nod to Steve Jobs’ famous “Think Different” campaign. Leaving the “ly” off is deliberate on a number of levels. :-)

  91. [...] More interesting reading on “luck”:  What Lucky People Do Different. [...]

  92. will says:

    “Look at this,” he exclaimed, pointing to the far wall. In the corner was a full-page newspaper ad for the Apple I computer, circa 1980. The headline read: What Is A Personal Computer?”

    Nitpick: the apple 1 was never sold. It was an ad for the Apple 2, which came out in Dec 1977.

  93. [...] ago, I was feeling burnt out on life and I read this article posted on Jonathan Field’s blog: What Lucky People Do Differently, written by Erik Calonius. The article discussed how people that consider themselves “unlucky” in life are closed [...]

  94. [...] What Lucky People Do Differently Today’s guest contributor is former Wall Street Journal and Fortune writer, Erik Calonius. Erik collaborated with Dan Ariely on Predictably Irrational and he has a new book out from Penguin Portfolio, Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of  Us. [...]

  95. Sonia Simone says:

    I absolutely hopped up and down when I first read about that newspaper study. It so perfectly illustrates how we miss opportunities — juicy, wonderful opportunities that would love us to take them up and benefit from them — because we’re looking for something else.

    We can learn to change focus. We can learn to keep an eye out for different things.

  96. I was never a big fan of Steve Jobs, there were some things he said that annoyed me but after he died recently I read quite a bit about what he said and stood for (like this post) that has really changed my opinion of him. I am a great believer in creating your own luck by spotting opportunities AND using them. I started my adult life in a homeless hostel for teenagers but turned things around to become a successful entrepreneur. I am often being told I am lucky and I got a bit fed up of explaining to people that has nothing to do with chance so I started my blog and wrote a book show people “how to be lucky”.

  97. Gil Reich says:

    That’s the greatest FTC disclosure I’ve ever read. Also a good post.

  98. [...] @smashingmag An online magazine for professional Web designers and developers. I am into web design and smashing magazine is a great resource. Very nice read: Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else – http://bit.ly/f4TrHO [...]

  99. Tony says:

    This was the perfect article at the perfect time in my life. Thank you.

  100. [...] Simply believe that you are lucky. A recent study from psychologist and University of Hertfordshire Professor Richard Wiseman found that simply [...]

  101. [...] Simply believe that you are lucky. A recent study from psychologist and University of Hertfordshire Professor Richard Wiseman found that simply [...]

  102. [...] who are successful or ‘talented’ are not lucky  They have found an activity they love to do and have put an absolutely stoic, razor sharp focus [...]

  103. [...] offer a counterpoint to Talebs notion of luck being the arbiter of all success a piece called what Lucky People do Different This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the [...]

  104. [...] What Lucky People Do Differently | Jonathan Fields [...]

  105. [...] jonathanfields.com This entry was posted in Uncategorized by andrewwade77. Bookmark the permalink. Cancel Reply [...]

  106. [...] What Lucky People Do Different [...]

  107. C Landrey says:

    Ah yes, the Steve Job’s myth grows ever larger. When will we stop looking at successful individuals and companies and then sift through their past to “know” that X events were what made them great. There were thousands of other people who worked just as hard as Jobs, who walked in and out of classes just like he did, who stared businesses like he did, but who didn’t make it. Luck DOES play an immense role, starting with what socio-economic strata you are born into. To deny this is folly.

    BTW, Jobs did not drop out of college. He just stopped paying his tuition. Nice.

  108. […] Simply believe that you are lucky. A recent study from psychologist and University of Hertfordshire Professor Richard Wiseman found that simply […]