• Derick Ho

Understanding Luck And How To Control Luck In Your Favour

If you are born into an Asian culture you will hear the term "luck" being said more frequently.

Walk into any Asian person’s house and you’ll see all these different items designed to attract luck and shield against bad luck.

One example would be the Chinese New Year, where one believed that wearing red would bring you good luck for the incoming new year.

Somehow, it was this magical force that you could attract, and if you had enough of it, good things would happen.

It's kind of an Asian thing and honestly speaking, it is so misused by people that I started to hate it.

That's because I’ve seen people use the term as a defense mechanism or ego protection. When someone else obtained some massive success?

Just say that they got lucky.

Saying someone’s lucky is a way to discredit their hard work and intelligence, and blame it on an external factor that no one has control over. That way if you’re not as successful, it’s not your fault…just blame it on your “luck.

Imagine you worked really hard for something and you achieved it and had someone else say you were lucky? How do you feel?

Something that I have wondered about is how much of success IS luck vs. how much of it is hard work. We all intuitively know that it’s a combination of both.

Well, a few weeks ago I was taking a break from work and I caught up with a friend who owns one of the biggest used car dealerships in my home country.

He's a cool guy, we used to be in secondary school classmates. He's known to be one of the slackers in my class.

One of the topics which we actually talked about is luck. His insight about luck gave me a framework for understanding luck and its relationship to work.

I’m going to explain the four types of luck and give you some ideas on how you can become “luckier” in life. 

The Four Types of Luck

Most people lump luck into one entire thing when there are actually four types of luck. In fact, if you understand how the "luck" factor works, there are actually four levels that build upon each other. 

Level 1: Blind Luck or Dumb Luck

Your average joe when it comes to how they perceived luck.

An amazing outcome happened to someone where they had zero influence or control over it.

Think of it like striking the $1.5 million lottery. Or maybe one fine day you received a $200,000 inheritance from a distant relative you didn’t know existed. In the casino, this fella has a 99% chance of winning, and the river gives you the one card that you need to win.

Welcome it when it happens, but don’t rely on it.

Level 2: Luck Through Hard Work

You heard of this 70/30 term: 70% comes from you, 30% comes from your luck.

Some examples:

  • Your favorite pizza store has been selling Hawaiian Pizza for several years. All of a sudden, that particular pizza store received a One-Star Michelin award. The crowd and queue for that store explode.

  • This is a real story that actually happened in my home country in Singapore. Someone that I know was a sub-contractor who was about to be bankrupt. He had an idea to propose a smart ceiling fan for a mega-development project in Singapore (I shall not name out the relevant parties). They thought that doing so would give him more opportunities for his proposal to be accepted as Singapore is visioning for an eco-friendly environment. It took him months to pitch the proposal. They narrowed it down to a few companies that they wanted to work with that has the biggest reputation and the most competitive cost. Unfortunately, his company was the smallest one competing against industry giants. His company has multiple advisors. As luck would have it, one of the advisors was actually a close friend to the person who is the main contractor of the construction project who usually makes the decision on who to work with. And there he got it.

  • Your products. You create a ton of ads that go unnoticed, but then a Celebrity tweets your video and makes your product goes viral. 

There’s luck involved, but it would have never happened unless you put some work in first.

Level 3: Luck that You Discovered

Simply put, opportunity spotting.

As you develop knowledge and expertise, you’re able to spot opportunities that other people can’t.

It looks like blind luck to outsiders.

  • The property developers heard that the southern part of Singapore will be intending to be used as a thriving central business district. So what the property developers would do is to double down on building ultra-luxury condominiums near where the central business district should be. They indeed build the condominiums there and the property values increase 10x within five years.

  • You’re studying trends and realize that a certain Japanese themed action figure will be the hottest selling item for Christmas this year. You strike a deal to become the exclusive online distributor for this product. December comes and you sell out of this toy.

Level 4: Luck Becomes a System

This is the hardest level of luck to understand.

This is where if other people become lucky and you’re able to benefit from it because of your knowledge, brand, and reputation. 

One excellent example is my home country, Singapore.

Singapore is known to attract lots and lots of foreign investments in the country.

When Singapore has lots of foreign investments coming in and they benefited from it, Singapore also benefited from it. Because Singapore has developed a reputation for transparancy and strict law enforcement going around, huge companies will be considering Singapore as a destination to set up their base or their headquarters.

Even though I knew that I have been pulling my home country to cite out in this post, I personally think it's the best example here to explain to you.

This is the main reason why so few people would eventually understand how Singapore managed to grow from a slump to a developed country. The majority perceived this as "luck".

To be honest, I’ve benefited a lot from this concept in my own career.

Even though there are thousands of people who are great at digital marketing, only less than a handful have a personal brand.

I’ve worked hard to build a reputation as a digital marketer and being professional in everything that I do.      

This has presented me with countless opportunities that I would never have gotten if I was “underground.”

After a certain point, you will realize that it stops becoming luck. Instead, people have built systems for attracting opportunities and overcome obstacles. 

How To Control Luck In Your Favour

The moment that you all have been waiting for.

You now understand that there are four levels to luck. 

You need to think about these 2 things:

1. How can you generate more luck? 2. How can you take advantage of it when it strikes?

Here are some ideas on how you can do that!

#1. Cultivate a Unique, Personal Brand

You should work on your personal branding.

In this 21st century, people are googling you and checking out your social media on Facebook or Instagram. What does your personal brand say about you? 

We’ve all heard the horror stories about how some people have lost potential jobs because of what recruiters found online.

You don’t have to start a YouTube channel or start speaking on to build your personal brand. Do not overthink too much. My advice would be to specialize as much as you can.

My friend makes beautiful websites and wants to make more money. The problem is that there are overseas agencies that charge less. It’s hard for him to compete with them on price.

Here’s an important lesson: don’t compete.

Change the game.

I learned that in a hard way by competing for prices when I just started out.

There will always be people who will be able to offer a lower price than you. Those third world countries which have access to cheap resources and labors will always be able to sell cheaper than you, if not twice or thrice a cheap if they are ruthless.

There are far too many people who make websites. Why not specialize further?

One tip I would like to give you would be understanding your client's needs and provide an excellent service to your clients.

Anybody can create a Shopify store. But why not bring a step further by understanding what your client needs and offering a focus on design and conversion rate optimization.

There’s going to be far less competition vs being a generic website agency. 

#2. Surround Yourself With Winners

I had some friends that seemed to always be “unlucky.” In reality, none of their situations had to do with bad luck.

Truth is, they were always making horrible decisions. And they perceived their decisions as bad luck, they denied themselves the ability to learn and improve.

In fact, constantly trying to improve and improve will increase your odds.

If you’re surrounded by winners, then naturally more opportunities happen to you.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Earlier on, I mentioned that my friend owns one of the biggest used car dealerships in my home country. Did you know he’s also crushing it in F&B business? He keeps a close inner circle when it comes to his business dealings.

You can imagine the benefits of being a close friend of someone like him. He is a close friend of a well-known celebrity chef. He owns a successful restaurant which is one of the top well-known high-end restaurants in Asia.

3. Ride the Trends

Are you in a niche that’s rising or dying?

There’s simply more opportunity for luck to happen in industries that are on the rise.

You need to make sure that you can take advantage of luck when it does strike.

It's pretty common to see rising stars exploding into fame every single week through memes and viral videos, be it for a good thing or a bad thing.

Some of them are one-hit wonders and they disappear into obscurity.

Others ride the momentum and turn it into a career.

Financially stable is also a deciding factor to determine your luck.

Imagine that you are heading to a business proposal meeting. All of a sudden, your car broke down but you do not have the money to get your car towed, and you can’t afford the Uber ride an hour away. You just missed your opportunity.

A company wants to sign an exclusive deal to distribute your product. You can’t get approved for the financing involved for a large order. They choose to work with someone else.

And this goes without saying, but you should work hard. Develop your brand, knowledge, and reputation, and then luck will keep coming to you.

Next, live where the action is.

The place where you live also determines what kind of luck you will have depending on what actions you intend to do.

Imagine if you are living in some rural country in Asia, you are more likely to find more success if you are doing manufacturing or exports.

However, if you are living in a super developed country, you are less likely to find much success as naturally, productions and manpower will be expensive.

Bad Decision Making Is The Main Reason Behind Bad Luck

Understanding the difference between bad luck and bad decision making is very important.

You are going to work early in the rainy morning and you got struck by lightning. That’s bad luck.

You’re driving to work and your car died on the way, you end up missing the most important meeting of your life. You think it’s bad luck.

However, the servicing needed to be done more than half a year ago. That is bad decision making.

If you think it’s all because of bad luck, then you’re bound to have more issues like this in the future. But if you realize this was due to poor decision making, then you can learn from this.

You’ll keep up with your car maintenance from now on and you’ve given yourself a slight edge in life.

Lastly, if You’re Reading This

You're lucky.

I use to be a jealous person growing up.

I remember meeting my college friend and finding out his parents got him a brand new Mercedes-Benz SLK. I wasn't getting any car from my parents because we are just a typical average income family back then. We can only afford to commute by public transport. (FYI buying a car here in Singapore is super expensive.)

I thought to myself. Damn, he’s so lucky.

Every weekend, I had to work at a coffee-shop as a service crew in a hotpot stall 1 hour away from my home. I had to juggle my studies as well as working part-time for pocket money. I had to skip partying at midnight just to save that extra penny.

How I wish I was that one lucky guy that I could receive a $1,000 monthly allowance from my parents without slogging so hard at a part-time job.

Can you relate to these feelings?

In order to save some money, I had to travel cross-border to Malaysia every week to shop for my own stuff just to take advantage of the cheaper rates.

There, it was my first time seeing poverty up close. This is real life.

I have seen people begging on the streets, living in houses that are made of sheet metal. Worse still, I ever came across a guy who had to eat thrown food in a garbage bin.

Holy shit, I'm so lucky that I didn't go through any of the above.

I’m not built to get straight A’s in school and probably would’ve ended up working as an electronics engineer which is probably doesn't run in my blood.

The fact that I'm able to make choices to work what I want itself is lucky.

How else was I lucky?

  • I never went hungry as a kid.

  • I didn’t have to worry about food and shelter/housing.

We can’t say that about everyone, unfortunately.

Working at a coffee-shop as a service crew on the weekend taught me how to better understand and communicate with people. There’s something humbling about that.

I have no trouble working with a mind of steel when I’m tired these days because I did it for so many years in a hot environment in a coffee-shop and building up my business.

I think those are the worst days that cannot be compared to this.

It is easy to wish that you had better circumstances.

Learn to realize that you’re already lucky by the fact that you are reading this post and you are in control of your own fate to decide what you really achieve in your life.

Talk soon,