Even if you’re not superstitious, it’s hard not to ascribe other people’s good fortune to luck. Everyone knows that one person who seems to always be in the right place at the right time, getting more than their fair share of promotions, raises, and desks near the window. (Understanding, of course, that their fair share should be “equal to or less than you’re getting.”) So how do these folks do it?
(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)
In short, lucky people get all the breaks because they’re mentally prepared to receive them. Before you roll your eyes and prepare to set fire to your dog-eared copy of The Secret, take heart: it’s less about the Law of Attraction and more about slowing down a bit and paying attention.
1. Observe their surroundings.
One of the ironies of working life is that the hardest working people usually have their heads down and their eyes on their own page. This is admirable, but if you allow yourself to develop tunnel vision, you won’t notice opportunities when they present themselves.
Consider one experiment designed by Richard Wiseman, a former magician and psychologist who studies luck.
At Ninjas and Robots, Nathan Kontny explains:
In one experiment, Wiseman asked people to self identify themselves as lucky or unlucky. Then he gave his test subjects a newspaper. “Count the number of photographs inside,” he told them.
There were 43 photographs.
On average, the unlucky people took 2 minutes to count them all. The lucky people? Seconds.
The lucky people noticed the giant message that took up half the second page of the newspaper. It said, “Stop counting — There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”
The unlucky people missed it. They also missed the equally giant message half way through the newspaper, “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.”
The “lucky” people weren’t lucky. They were just more observant.
2. Are likeable.
There are two equally qualified candidates with similar skills, work histories, and salary requirements. Who gets the job? The one the hiring manager likes more.
This isn’t as unfair as it sounds. When evaluating candidates for a position, managers are looking first for the person who can do the best job and second for the person who’ll be the easiest to work alongside. In today’s team-based work environment, anything else would be foolish.
The good news is that being likeable isn’t about being the person with the most bone-crushing handshake or best seats at the stadium. It’s about listening more than you speak, looking for opportunities to help others instead of solely asking for favors for your career, and showing genuine interest in others and passion for your job.
Thinking about good things might not cause them to appear, but dwelling on the negative will definitely close you off from seeing opportunities when they arise. Practice redirecting your thoughts when you catch yourself thinking negatively, and you’ll cultivate a head space that allows you to see the good stuff when it’s there. Do this long enough, and it’ll be easier to create your own opportunities for growth and advancement, and get other higher-ups to endorse your plans.
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