A ten-year scientific study into the nature of luck has revealed that, to a large extent,people make their own good and bad fortune. The results also show that it is possible to enhance the amount of luck that people encounter in their lives.
Barnett Helzberg Jr. is a lucky man. By 1994 he had built up a chain of highly successful jewelry stores with an annual revenue of around $300 million.One day he was walking past the Plaza Hotel in New York when he heard a woman call out, “Mr.Buffett” to the man next to him. Helzberg wondered whether the man might be Warren Buffett –one of the most successful investors in America.
Helzberg had never met Buffett, but had read about the financial criteria that Buffett used when buying a company. Helzberg had recently turned sixty, was thinking of selling his company, and realized that his might be the type of company that would interest Buffett. Helzberg seized the opportunity, walked over to the stranger and introduced himself.The man did indeed turn out to be Warren Buffett, and the chance meeting proved highly fortuitous because about a year later Buffett agreed to buy Helzberg’s chain of stores. And all because Helzberg just happened to be walking by as a woman called out Buffett’s name on a street corner in New York.
Helzberg’s story illustrates the effect of luck in business, but good fortune also plays a vital role in all aspects of our lives. Stanford psychologist Alfred Bandura has discussed the impact of chance encounters and luck on people’s personal lives.Bandura noted both the importance and prevalence of such encounters, writing that “some of the most important determinants of life paths often arise
through the most trivial of circumstances.” He supports his case with several telling examples, one of which was drawn from his life. As a graduate student,Bandura became bored with a reading assignment and so decided to visit the local golf links with a friend. Just by chance, Bandura and his friend found themselves playing behind two attractive female golfers, and soon joined them as a foursome.
After the game, Bandura arranged to meet up with one of the women again, and eventually ended up marrying her. A chance meeting on a golf course altered his entire life.
In short, lucky events exert a dramatic influence over our lives. Luck has the power to transform the improbable into the possible, to make the difference between life and death, reward and ruin, happiness and despair.