Earlier in my life, I was bemused at the sight of a number of people who had talent and persistence, but never seemed to get the break that allowed them to display that talent. At the same time, it was puzzling to see much less qualified people rise to the top. Not always, not even very often, but often enough that it was disturbing to observe.
It seems as if some people just seem to waltz through life, encountering one lucky break or loving, supportive person after another.
My initial curiosity in this phenomenon led me to the study of Peak Performance techniques, which became part of my “stress toolbox,” to help people move from stress to success. One finding is that “lucky” people, consciously or unconsciously, have certain habits that help them easily make the right connections. These techniques are used by winners in every area of life.
If you want to improve your “luck,” here are some simple tips that you can incorporate into your life right now.
Lori was one of my “harried women” clients. In the midst of a divorce, she dreaded the acrimonious conversations with her ex-husband. Fatigued and frustrated, she was on edge at work, and was worrying constantly about her upcoming year-end employee review.
One of the things we worked on was to get her to stop writing stories about the future: all the possible things that could be wrong on her employee review, resulting in a lower year-end bonus, and difficulty paying bills, etc., etc.
We then worked on getting her to stop obsessing about the past and all the conversations and incidents involving her ex-husband that she was sure would be repeated over and over.
Resolved to live with less stress, she started taking the bus to work, resolutely avoiding thinking about the past or future, trying to stay alert in and be in “present time.” One morning, instead of daydreaming about the past or the future, she got into an increasingly enthusiastic conversation with her seat mate. He was a stranger when they got on the bus. They parted at the end of the bus ride, exchanging business cards.
The next morning, when her boss called her into his office, she went with some fear. In fact, her seat mate had been so impressed with her enthusiastic conversation about her work that he had switched his considerably large investments accounts to her brokerage, and her boss was impressed!
She got a promotion.
Moral of this story: Only in the present can you connect with others.
A second aspect of this story is now validated by research from Christine Carter at the Center for Greater Good at the University of California, Berkeley: Talk to strangers!
Do not automatically screen people out because they don’t look important.
Exchange pleasant conversation everywhere with people you meet casually – on public transportation, in elevators, over counters and in offices where they serve you – just because you an interested, alert and curious person. Express genuine interest in what they do.
A stress management bonus: Focusing on other people, especially strangers, will also keep you from thinking too much about yourself and your worries, and help you to focus on being present.
And the third tip: Be willing to show enthusiasm for who you are and what you do – in every encounter. For every person who expresses disdain for your enthusiasm or your activity, you will meet many who will show support, offer ideas, and even find connections for you.
So get out there and create some “luck” today.