The 4 Types of Luck

What is luck? Is luck really just a chance occurrence? Is it really just a roll of the dice? As someone who has been lucky” many times before, it always seemed that there was more to it than that.

I needed a better framework for luck.

That’s when I came across Dr. James Austin’s 4 types of luck from his book, Chase, Chance, and Creativity. Here’s a summary of the four types of luck:

  1. Blind Luck.

This is the most common type of luck that people think of.

Say your walking on an island, you trip over a log and while on the ground you spot a golden nugget. This is blind luck. You weren’t looking for anything, you just happened to come across it.

The key here is that you are moving around, blind luck doesn’t happen if you’re standing still.

  1. Stirring the pot.

If you cause a big enough stir, that stirring causes stuff to eventually happen. This one is more deliberate than blind luck.

A popular example of this is students cold reaching out to employers en masse, in hopes of getting an internship. If you reach out enough, eventually something will happen.

  1. Domain expertise.

Being a domain expert allows you to spot things that are obvious to you but not to a layman.

This is common occurrence within science, from the discovery of insulin to the cure for smallpox. These scientists gain domain expertise within their area, and small chance occurrences, that to the untrained eye mean nothing, lead to huge breakthroughs for these scientists.

  1. Reputation.

Others think of you as the expert within that field. That reputation acts as a serendipity vehicle that attracts opportunities to you.

For example, say you are the world’s best scuba diver, this is the identity that associate with you. Now, if a friend of yours finds a shipwreck, they need a scuba diver and you are the first person they contact because of your reputation. You’ll get a share of the treasure as well. Their luck becomes your luck.

The best type of luck is comes from type 3 and type 4. Not everyone has domain expertise or reputation, thus the resulting opportunities are unique.

From experience, one way to optimize for type 3 and type 4 luck come from building something. For example, a company, a project or in my case an event. The process of building creates domain expertise and reputation that start to grow overtime. That creation becomes an asset that attracts the right people and opportunities to you.

I’ll write more on my experiences with this tomorrow.

When was the last time you were lucky?


[1] I first heard of this topic from Naval’s How to get Rich without getting Lucky podcast.

March 6, 2020 · Career

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