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:
- Live at a higher stress level, feel the pressure of time to work flat out.
- Enjoy the achievement of goals, especially if they’re deemed ‘difficult’ to achieve.
- Find it difficult to stop once they’ve achieved these goals
- More competitive. Hate failure.
Type B Personalities generally:
- Live at a lower stress level.
- Do not stress goals unachieved, do not fear failure but enjoy the ‘taking part’ process.
- Are more likely to be creative and enjoy exploring new ideas and concepts.
- 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!