Why Luck Doesn’t Exist

by Alexander Heyne · 5 comments

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Why Luck is Deceptive

I used luck as a cowardly excuse for both my failures and successes for a long time.  I had no idea that I was using luck as a scapegoat, until a couple years ago.

And honestly, my life changed going from thinking that certain opportunities presented themselves due to “luck”, “chance,” or “fate,” to knowing that it was because of my own personal decisions (or lack thereof).

A Brief Story


For the majority of my life, until a couple years ago, I tended to see good opportunities as blessings.  I would view an awesome, unique opportunity to travel as destiny.  An amazing girl comes into my life?  Fate.  The best or worst job I’ve ever had? Deliberate, planned and designed.  They were all viewed as luck because they were far and few in-between.

The things that came into my life that were “perfect” were so far in between that, of course, I viewed them as heaven-sent and deserved.

I now believe that 90% of the situations we experience or fail to experience are due to exposure and being bold, while 10% are actually due to luck or other opportune circumstances.

I think that quite a few of us believe that opportunities regarding the opposite sex, jobs, or unique out-of-the-blue opportunities are at least sometimes “meant to be.”  Let me tell you why I think this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Actual Situation

Most of us use luck as an excuse whether or not we know it.

People who tend to say “oh my god I met this guy and I don’t want to lose him” tend to be the people who either A. Don’t get to date much or B. Don’t encounter their type much or C. People who don’t get out much. All of those can be remedied by “putting yourself out there more.” None necessarily have to do with luck, fate, or opportunities of a lifetime.

And guess what?  More than one person I’ve talked to who has “put themselves out there” has started to believe less and less in destined meetings, and more and more in luck as “what happens when preparation meets opportunity” as Seneca famously said.

Good things just happen when you do it right.

The Criteria

Right now you need to honestly assess yourself.  When an awesome out of the blue opportunity shows up, do you regard it as destiny or simply as a nice opportunity to take hold of?

How often do “out-of-the-blue” opportunities show up for you?  Once a week? Once a month? Once a year? Once every few years?

When an incredible romantic situation presents itself, do you view it as “finally, a chance”, and quickly become afraid of losing that “opportunity?”

When after a year of unemployment you finally find a job, do you attribute it to chance, or opportunity? “It was the right time..” I used to tell myself a lot.

The Personality Scoop

As a brief recap, I’ve established an artificial dichotomy here:

  • Waiters” – People who view unique opportunities as serendipitous, due to fate, luck, destiny.  Feel in control that 10% of the time when an opportunity presents itself.  (It presents itself – they rarely find opportunities on their own)
  • Go-getters” – People who regularly put themselves out there and believe in opportunity (and get opportunities).  Opportunities have a less powerful hold on them because they see them more often. They influence their reality and totally (90% of the time) control it
This dichotomy has been well-established before, but I think it becomes more meaningful with personal examples.  One day I realized I was waiting for things to be given to me, and then I changed my situation.

The Reality

I don’t know about you, but If I knew that “doing,” “having stones,” and “putting myself out there,” were the solutions to an almost lifelong problem, my life would be way different.

The most important things that I have concluded about luck are the following:

  • The most important reason for being a “go-getter” is the feeling of being in control.  The feeling of waiting for something totally sucks. There is nothing that makes people more afraid than feeling powerless.  It doesn’t feel good.
  • Go-getters experience way more opportunities romantically, in work, and in travel.  Mathematically there is just a statistically better chance of experiencing more by exposing yourself to more.  Makes sense, right?

I used luck as an excuse for laziness, for being a coward, and for being unwilling to change.

Becoming a Revolutionary

Sure I think luck is a big part of life. And by big I mean 10%.  That other 90% is totally under your control, and is entirely optional as to whether or not you use it.

You can sit back and wait and 10% of the time get what you want.  Or, 90% of the time you can get what you want – and with “luck” on your side, all the time.

I’m so surprised people haven’t mentioned this before, because all the time I hear friends talk about how lucky they are…

Expose yourself to more, and you will experience more.  Swallow your pride, grow some stones, and take opportunities that normally scare the shit out of you.  That is the only way to experience more and grow.

The choice is always yours, you can choose to be powerful, in control of your destiny, and live a fruitful life.  Or you can wait for opportunities to happen, and when they (rarely) do, you can thank the heavens and your lucky stars.

I decided to man up, and take the latter.  But the choice is up to you.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Serena August 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

And where is the facebook like link ?

Sorry! It disappeared when I transferred over to a new host. It will be up today

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jookyone October 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I wholeheartedly disagree with your assertions about luck. Of course point of view and perception means everything with regard to luck. I happen to be the luckiest son of a bitch in the world. It’s obviously unverifiable, but it’s the best word I have for the feeling and I will explain why I think you are wrong.

From what I can discern from perusing your site for a few minutes, you were fortunate to come from a family that did not require you to deal with lower levels of being (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), quoting you:

“I had the privilege of being born into a family that didn’t have to worry about the necessities, and thus had the blessing of questioning that “other” feeling.”

I suppose if you already have food, shelter, family, and other basic or mid level needs fulfilled and you are sitting around doing nothing with that opportunity, you are a loser. You throw all of your credibility out of the window when you dismiss that basic fulfillment as only accounting for 10% of your existence. Perhaps more visits to the outlying areas of China might better serve you than those experiences in Beijing.

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afheyne October 31, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Jookyone,

I agree, if you were born into a life with a lot, you are quite a loser if you are sitting around and doing nothing with it. No argument there.

I think you may have mis-read what I said regarding 10%. It is my opinion that 10% of the time this random sequence of events will come together, and things by chance will happen. I don’t think that had anything to do with the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

And I have indeed visited third world regions, both in China and elsewhere. Kindly clarify the point you are trying to make —

Alexander

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jookyone November 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

The point is that poorer people or those dealing with lower levels of existence, might find luck as they perceive it, to be a quite larger slice of life. Could you tell the ugly one eyed deaf pauper that the only thing keeping him down is his lack of motivation and really believe it?

I think your assertions are correct for the small percentage of people that have it all. Ever seen an ugly one armed president from humble beginnings? You likely never will either. Luck usually comes first, and the ability to even be a go better is a distant second for most.

afheyne November 8, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Absolutely — and this is merely my perception.

I guess we believe in different definitions of luck — what you are born into — looks, opportunity, your parents – you definitely cannot change. And no doubt that will determine and immense portion of your fate.

You raise a good point though regarding luck usually coming first, and the things under your control being second. And I agree that my points only apply to a select group of people — and my argument is simple; where some assume that the golden out of the blue opportunities are “luck,” I believe that they are instead perceived as lucky.

But again I think this is an argument over semantics — luck being what you’re born with i agree totally. But I am beginning with the assumption that you are born with “enough” (whatever that means), and that instead of viewing opportunities as lucky you should strive to be more bold and you will find much more “luck.”

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