Competing against Luck

Updated: Aug 8, 2021

Have you heard of "Chinese Whispers". The meaning of things gets distorted when they pass from one person to another person. It's a fun game that you can actually try with your friends. And it gives you an important lesson for life, the perils of communication and how to be careful in ones understanding. There is a fun video of the game at the end if you want to try.

Something like Chinese Whispers has happened with the word "luck". Today we think of luck as God up in the sky deciding our success or failure. Now, I do not mean any disrespect to God. But leaving the success and failure of thousands of actions, billions of people, 365 days in a year is like leaving too much work for God to do. Hindus have "33 koti" Gods so the work may get distributed but still it's too much even for them.


Anyways, jokes apart, what is the relevance of luck? What is luck? Luck is just the chance of an outcome like success or failure. The outcome of any opportunity depends on our readiness. And our readiness depends on our own actions. So luck is just our readiness in front of an opportunity. If you are ready for an opportunity, it's good luck. If you are not, it's bad luck. But it ultimately comes down to you and your actions.

Outcomes are a lagging measure of our behaviour & habits

Examples


Look at our olympic athletes. The best athletes ranking as the best shooters and boxers in the world failed to win Olympic medals. Bad luck indeed. God was not on their side? No, it wasn't God. They were not good enough? No, in fact a lot of them are the best in the world - MC Mery Kom, Deepika Kumari, PV Sindhu. Then what was it? If you ask the athletes themselves, they will know that they were just not ready to grab the opportunity. Maybe the bow of the archer or the rifle of the shooter was not conditioned properly, maybe the defensive strategy adopted by the hockey team against Argentina was not right, maybe wrestler did not sleep on time the previous night, maybe the sprinter did not eat the right food in the days leading up to the final. The conditioning and preparation matters because you have to be in the best of physical and mental health to give your best exactly at the minute of your opportunity.


For all of us, it's about the readiness and attention to those finer details in life. The bad luck is only the fact that some of them were not ready fully to grab the opportunity. And the next time, these very sportspersons will learn from their success and their failure to come back ready to win or perform even better!


Building Habits: The Formula


If you now understand how "luck" works, you know you need to get two things right - behaviours and habits. Habits are most important because they work in a compounding way. Let's say if a habit improves you by 1% every day, you are almost 38 times better by the end of 1 year. And if you do not use the power of habit, you will lose to those who used that power.


James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, gives us a breakthrough formula to build good habits. It's a 4 step process in this order -

  1. Make it Obvious

  2. Make it Attractive

  3. Make it Easy

  4. Make it Satisfying

I'll explain with an example. Let's say you want a habit of running everyday. Then,

1. Make it Obvious by creating a target - "I will run a half marathon in less than 90 minutes within 6 months". If you have to achieve this target, obviously you have to practice. You can use habit stacking - After [current habit] I will do [new habit].

2. Make it Attractive by creating conditions - like buy some nice tracksuits, bands, shoes for running. Something that will attract you toward running. Watch the best runners on YouTube to get inspired and learn new things about running better.

3. Make it Easy by - keeping your running clothes next to your pillow before you sleep. When you wake up, you first wear the running clothes, then freshen up and go running.

4. Make it Satisfying by creating a reward for yourself - "If I run 10 kms in a day, I will buy myself a fruit juice at the end, and if I complete the half marathon, I'll go on a holiday t o my favourite destination". This way, following your habit will give you a satisfying feeling. You can use the formula: After [new habit] I will do [favourite thing / track progress]


We all try one of these steps and hence fail to build a habit. When we do all four together one by one, that is when we can build lasting habits. Following these 4 steps gives you the best chance to build good habits. Building good habits gives you the best chance to be ready for your challenges. Being ready gives you the best chance to succeed. That is how you compete against luck! Good luck!


Now, which habit would you like to build? Comment on the blog and let us know. Like, share and subscribe to the blog for byte sized blogs to help you prepare for life ahead. Bonus video today is from a movie called "Pursuit of Happyness", a movie based on the true story of millionaire Chris Gardner, which is one of the most beautiful story of how a person competes against luck to reach his / her destiny. And also a summary of the "Atomic Habits" formula. A must read book if you like reading. Happy learning. 😊

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PS: Monishka Mittal asked an interesting question. How to create a habit of revising notes. So in the interest of everyone, I am sharing how we can use this principle -

  1. Make it Obvious: Use habit stacking, you stack the new habit with something that you do everyday. Like "once I finish dinner, I will revise today's notes for 30 mins" so that it becomes an automatic reaction. No more thinking, after finishing dinner you revise the notes before getting up from the dinner table. You can stack it with any other habit also like after evening tea, waking up from bed, doing yoga, watching TV etc.

  2. Make it Attractive: Choose something special, something that you love. Maybe your favourite pen or your favourite colour highlighter or your favourite drink - tea, juice, snack etc. This pen / highlighter / snack should be your special thing which you love using and you will only use it during your revision exercise. Once revision is done you do not touch it and keep it safely back in a hidden place.

  3. Make it Easy: When you go to the dinner table, carry the notes you want to revise with you, keep them beside your dinner on the table. You do not get up from the dinner table until you finish revision of notes.

  4. Make it Satisfying: Once you finish the habit each day (revising your notes in this case) put a tick on the calendar and/or listen to your favourite song for 15 minutes or watch a video that you wanted to or talk to your friend or maybe even post an interesting picture or information you revised today on Instagram. If you do not revise, you cannot listen to the music or cannot watch the video that you wanted to or cannot talk to your friend today or no Instagram, facebook posts etc.

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