Bill Cottringer

“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.” ~Eliyahu Goldratt.

Are you lucky or unlucky? I suppose how you answer this question depends upon how you define “luck.” The simplest dictionary definition is: “Good fortune or a happy outcome, especially by chance.” Some synonyms include fortune, blessing, providence, chance, coincidence, serendipity, and destiny. Personally, I like to view luck as what happens when the right efforts meet the right opportunity. Regardless of your preferred definition, all versions of luck seem to follow a continuum where some people are born with a silver spoon, while others are born into being very much out of any luck. Of course, most of us go through life somewhere in between.

Wherever you are on this continuum, there are some clues available as to effective strategies for decreasing your bad luck and increasing good luck.

Decreasing Your Bad Luck

Like the opening quote says—bad luck is when the lack of preparation meets the present reality. Decreasing bad luck requires an attitude and action realignment, from wishing for better luck to be dropped in your lap without having to do anything to make that happen, to looking for ways to avoid positioning yourself where the lack of preparation can only result in bad luck. If you are a fan of the previous “Secret” and “Law of Attraction” mega movement, then this just translates to eliminating negative thoughts that attract bad luck. You simply can’t attract good luck without getting rid of the distractions getting in the way.

Another useful strategy for decreasing bad luck is to start questioning whether you are wasting valuable time trying to apply your wrong efforts to the wrong opportunities, not really suited for you and the position in which you currently are. A different way of saying this, is maybe your goals are out of range of your abilities, no matter what level of your efforts. Sometimes, you just have to rearrange your goals and your approach to achieving them. Finally, we can’t dismiss the possibility that bad karma will always follow as a natural consequence of wrong choices and actions. Just be more careful of the choices you make and the actions you take.

Increasing your Good Luck

When you seem to be having more bad luck than good luck, the best advice is to quit digging the hole you are in and climb you way back to the surface, which is a much better position to start to increase your good luck. Getting to a better position involves making different choices and taking different actions that bring you closer to the right opportunity that will result in the good luck you want. Of course, you must be careful to not confuse what you want with what you may need, more.

One sure way to increase good luck is to work on increasing your sensitivity. Fine-tuned sensitivity is necessary to discern an opportunity from a danger, knowing the point of no return before it comes and goes, and understanding the importance of good timing. In anything, good timing is everything. And, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the best opportunities in life come in twos, so it is a good idea to know when the first one has already come and gone.

In traveling a roller coaster ride on the luck continuum in my own life, I have realized that when you are lucky enough to live on a river and in the mountains, then you are lucky enough! I have had plenty of good luck and bad luck, but all that counts is that I feel lucky enough. That appreciation alone, will likely dissuade any unnecessary bad luck from showing up at my doorstep, but if it does, I will own it and deal with it! Mind over matter—if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

And one final point an old college friend reminded me about. You may have an unexpected flat tire on the way to an important job interview which causes you to be late and miss the interview. You view this mishap as bad luck. That is until a year later when your find out the employer you had the interview with, went out of business being bankrupt. Then the bad luck seems to turn into good luck.

Opps... I had a few other experiences yesterday that are relevant. I was taking my Honda CRV into the Dealer for a water pump recall notice. One the way to the appointment I encountered three unexpected delays--a very long red light, some annoying construction stops and a long service line wait at the Dealer's. Now if all these unexpected delays were making me late for the appointment, then I would not be happy with this bad luck. But, I left early and plenty of time to waste, so these delays were viewed as good luck. This experience demonstrates the situational nature of luck.

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” ~Cormac McCarthy.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or