Can You Learn to Be Lucky? Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others by Karla Staff

4. How Sarah Palin Happened

  • From state championship basketball star to runner up for the Miss Alaska title to on-air TV sports anchor to city council member to the mayor to governor to the Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin seemed to be pretty lucky. Like her or not it’s hard to make the case that she isn’t pretty. While there are some downsides to beauty, they are far outweighed by the benefits. Attractive children get more nurturing and teachers have higher expectations of them.
  • The first piece of information you get about something frames your expectations, and the first information you get about a person is their appearance. People with low self-esteem are less likely to hire someone who is more attractive. When it comes to appearance, making the most of what you’ve got will increase your luck. Don’t obsess over what you don’t like about yourself and be optimistic.

5. I Got This: The Lucky Art of Confidence and Approaching Rewards

  • Being confident makes it easier to be lucky. Staus breeds confidence so, in a sense, the rich get richer. While you can’t measure confidence, how you feel really matters. Winning or success of any kind builds confidence, which leads to more wins and successes. Having a growth mindset rather than a fixed one helps (See my summary of Mindset by Carol Dweck.)
  • Gender, race, and culture can play a part, but only if you let it. In some cultures, the gender stereotype is that girls are not good in math for example. This is not true in others (Sweden and Norway). Asian American women do better when they report their ethnicity on tests and poorer when they report their gender. The better you can focus the better you will do and your confidence will grow. Confidence is a positive evaluation of your own actions and abilities.

6. Find Your Thing: Why Gold Medalists Require Luck

  • The top athletes in any sport have to be lucky in two ways. First need to have the right genes to produce the required size, strength, and speed. In addition, they have to be lucky enough to have access to the proper facilities and coaching so that they can engage in lots of quality practice. They also require parents who have the money and the vision to offer the necessary support. Success is limited by resources so use what you’ve got and what you can get for free.
  • The trick to finding something you like and can learn fast is to try a lot of things. When you find something try to get high-quality lessons and feedback right away. Your first teacher might be your most important teacher. Ideally, it’s something you would do anyway so it doesn’t seem like work. This same lesson applies to parenting. Expose kids to lots of new things. Studies show that kids who get a lot more encouragement than discouragement are much more likely to succeed. You need to believe you can do something, have good self-esteem, and learn from losses and failures. Also, the top people are often the hardest workers.

7. Check Yourself Prior to Wrecking Yourself: How Self-Control Leads to Lucky Outcomes

  • Finding something you like and are good at is a good start. Next, it is essential that you work to develop that talent. If you make a habit of following through, lucky dividends will be yours over time. The key is regulating your own behavior. Self-control, like confidence, will increase your luck. The world only sees what you have accomplished. This skill is easier for some, but with effort, anyone can get better at it.
  • When you see a fit person you see self-control. It’s the opposite when you see someone who is obese. Too thin also doesn’t send a good message. Being fit makes you more desirable as a partner and as an employee. (Doug: I know that when was hiring I had an anti-overweight bias.) The trick here is to find physical activities that you enjoy. Years of smart health decisions can prevent chronic illnesses. If you routinely save, your savings can prevent bad luck from snowballing. A smart choice should be your default choice like automatically saving money from each paycheck. If your friends don’t share your values, find new friends. As a parent teach your kids about the benefits of self-control and patience.
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