Do you believe in Luck? (Nerd Alert)

Luck
noun
  1. success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Luck – as we understand it from the above definition – is quite a modern concept. From as late as the 1500’s we’ve wished each other ‘Good Fortune’ – thanks to the Dutch and Germans from whom we stole the words. But the idea that we rely on ‘luck’ to achieve what we want is only a hundred and fifty years old or so.

Before that, if we wanted something we’d have to manoeuvre things to suit our needs; whether that’s work hard, work smart, network with the right people, develop skills or gain cultural capital: this is very much my mentality.

When I studied A Level Psychology, we completed several small experiments and one in particular which is relevant to ‘luck’ is whether you’re a ‘Type A’ or ‘Type B’ personality.

 

Type A Personalities generally:

  1. Live at a higher stress level, feel the pressure of time to work flat out.
  2. Enjoy the achievement of goals, especially if they’re deemed ‘difficult’ to achieve.
  3. Find it difficult to stop once they’ve achieved these goals
  4. More competitive. Hate failure.

Type B Personalities generally:

  1. Live at a lower stress level.
  2. Do not stress goals unachieved, do not fear failure but enjoy the ‘taking part’ process.
  3. Are more likely to be creative and enjoy exploring new ideas and concepts.
  4. Are more likely to be reflective.

Thanks to Changing Minds.

This means Type A Personalities are less prone to believing in luck – they’ll deconstruct failures and take credit for successes, whereas Type B Personalities tend to be the types of people who say ‘that’s life, I guess’ or ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles’ – attributing their success or failures not to their actions but to a ‘greater, uncontrollable plan’.

And as a control freak – that’s just not acceptable to me.

So back to the psychology experiment –

We sat in a circle and my teacher asked us to look at a selection of cards with three lines on. One was longer than the others and we had to answer which one was longest. Now, I was unaware that the first three people would answer honestly, the fourth person would pick a line at random, and the rest of class then had to copy that fourth person. As the experiment continued, and we got the 8th or 9th card, I was getting more irritated that people didn’t seem to be taking this experiment seriously, just copying each other.

My teacher revealed the experiment was on me – and that I’m a Type A personality because I refused to follow the crowd in case they were wrong. And this is a mentality I’ve carried with me ever since.

That’s not to say I’m not creative, or reflective. But I do reflect over both my successes and my failures, working out what I could have done differently to improve. As a teacher and a writer, this is a key skill. No point on relying on Luck to get me published.

The Greeks used to believe in The Fates – but they didn’t ‘help’ people. People’s fates were usually tragic – and I don’t need that kind of drama in my life. I’ll continue to work hard so that my success is of my own making – because luck might not be recreated, but hard work can be.

Do you agree? Or do you believe in Luck? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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