Getting Lucky

Manufacturing Luck is more than a catchy title for this blog. It’s more than an intentional catachresis to make you think. It has deep implications on our successes or failures and achievements or disappointments in life.

Let me explain.

Here is the definition for manufacture:

1)  the act or process of producing something.

Here are two distinct definitions for luck:

1)  the things that happen to a person because of chance : the accidental way things happen without being planned

2)  success in doing or getting something

The phrase “manufacturing luck” can have two meanings depending on how we define luck.

Luck, in the first definition, makes this a paradoxical phrase. It’s paradoxical because “manufacturing” implies control and free will, whereas “luck” implies chance and determinism. These ideas are incompatible.

On the other hand, if we use the second definition of luck, which is another way of expressing the outcome of success or achievement, then it’s not so paradoxical. “Manufacturing luck” is simply the act of producing some successful outcome.

What’s most interesting about these different interpretations of meaning is that they have profound effects on our lives. The way we think about and define luck is a strong determinant of our ability to achieve our goals and obtain the things we want in life.

We can all agree that there is an extraordinary number of things in life that are not in our control. For instance, the family we are born into, the genes we inherit, and random events that impact us physically and psychologically, especially as children when we are most vulnerable.

Simply put, shit happens and life is unfair.

The negative circumstances outside of our control are the ones we often associate with bad luck. We fall into a state of mind that can be self-defeating. We assume we are no longer in control and things just happen to us. We begin to believe that achieving good fortune in life is also a matter of chance, and something that is mostly out of our control, so we operate on autopilot. This is a dangerous way of thinking and living.

In reality, the only move that matters is our next one. Our focus needs to be on what we can control now; namely, the productive use of our time and energy. The things outside of our control, that are in the past, are inconsequential. They may cause serious pain and suffering, but they are a part of life that needs to be mindfully embraced and accepted in order to give us the freedom to move onward.

Having a physical disability can be a great disadvantage in life, but the reality is that people with disabilities can still achieve marvelous things. Think of the blind musicians, paraplegic athletes, autistic scientists, and a host of other people that are discriminated for their race, gender, and sexual orientation that have become influencers and leaders of the free world. These people are proof that we have the innate ability and power to change our own lives in any way we can imagine despite our shortcomings. Whatever disadvantage we think we have because of the shitty cards we’ve been dealt in life can be overcome with the right attitude, focus, and determination.

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

We have significantly more control over the events in our lives than we may think, but it’s easy to fall into a common trap. Even without a major physical setback, we can quickly lose the strength necessary to achieve our dreams. The number one cause of defeat is a lack of belief; the lack of faith in oneself. Taking control of our lives is not trivial. It takes determination, focus, purpose, and hard work at minimum, but it all starts on the foundation of having the right frame of mind, including the belief in oneself.

I don’t mean to say that we should suppress how we feel when we are struck with tragedy or other unfavorable outcomes. We need to develop the skills to address the conflict and emotions we feel, to be conscious, mindful, and accepting of our circumstances, but to quickly move on since time doesn’t pause for us to stew on these issues.

Dwelling on the past and thinking about the unfortunate circumstances that are outside of our control is taking away from our ability to seize the moment and make something good of the precious time we have left. The inability to transmute negative experiences into motivation and positive thought patterns is a major cause of debilitating stress, depletion of energy, and reduction of our lifespans. Living with long-term emotional pain, anger, and other destructive thoughts is a choice we make. In its worst form, this frame of mind can gradually manifest into a deep form of depression that is very difficult to reverse. It requires a high level of self-awareness to protect ourselves from this condition.

I’ve been around countless people that have achieved enormous success and enormous failure. The one truth I’ve observed in the people that live mediocre, and even very sad and depressing lives, is that they never believed they could be great in the first place. They lack conviction because they believe their fate is determined and they have difficulty breaking the negative mental patterns that have developed slowly and silently in their minds over many years.

These people doubt their abilities to learn and grow. They doubt their ability to have good fortune. They think they are destined for a life of mediocrity and they become complacent. Because of this frame of mind, their big dreams start to fade and they make poor decisions. They fall into a negatively reinforcing system. A vicious feedback loop that results in worse and worse decisions, worse and worse outcomes, and worse and worse states of mind.

There is no denying it; we are what we think about. There is no such thing as good or bad luck. There is just luck, and we get to define it for ourselves. The people that achieve their dreams have a vision. They believe in themselves, work relentlessly hard, and never give up. They never give in to the internal and external voices of doubt. These are the people we assume are lucky in life.

Maybe they are lucky, but the point is, they don’t matter. All that matters is you. You are here now. You have specific cards you’ve been dealt. How you play your cards has a direct impact on the outcome of your life. You are in control. The question is, are you feeling lucky? Remember, it’s a state of mind you get to choose.

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