How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life by Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh
In HOW LUCK HAPPENS, authors Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh take a deep look at events that people often ascribe to “luck.” The authors argue that most of these situations happen not because of chance, but because of specific human actions—which might not be so obvious at first.
For example, the seemingly fortunate person might have been incredibly persistent despite numerous failures. Thomas Edison is cited as such an example: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Another path to luckiness is developing lots of connections:
“People who know how to play the networking game often end up looking like the luckiest ones around. . . What appears to the outside world as random luck often comes from networking behind the scenes.”
The authors cite the power of observation as another factor that makes one lucky. Those who can spot clues have an advantage:
“We get lucky when we know where we want to focus—or which possibilities we want to fire up."
I thought the most useful chapter was Chapter Five, “Connect to The Power of Other People.” If you have lots of contacts, you will appear lucky. So,
“Talk to the guy next to you on the plane . . . Give luck to get luck. . .. Rely on the strength of weak ties. . .. Go to every party.”
In Chapter Five, do not miss the discussion on “the strength of weak ties.” In the entire book, I thought this point was the most outstanding. When you are trying to get a job (for example), your closest network knows the same people as you do, so these connections are not too useful. It’s in your most distant connections, your “weak ties,” where the benefit happens:
“Connecting with them opens up a whole new community of possibilities—and because each new person is connected to many others, your possibilities are suddenly vastly larger.”
So, all in all, I found HOW LUCK HAPPENS to be an interesting, inspiring book, with tons of useful observations. I had not made the connection between “luck” and connecting with people before-that was an especially useful point. I was not so keen on the format of the book; it’s like “storytelling,” where the author quotes from her conversations with experts in the field. Nevertheless, there are many excellent ideas in this book—especially that point about “strength of weak ties.” I now realize that I must develop more connections. I guess that means I must start going to lots more parties.