On Being Lucky

There’s an old joke about being lucky that I just love:

Every night for thirty years, Earl got down on his knees before bedtime and prayed to God:

“God,” says Earl each night. “Please, please, please! Please let me win the lottery tomorrow.”

Finally, on Christmas Eve after thirty years, God speaks to Earl. “Earl, I’m going to grant your wish. Tomorrow you will win the lottery.”

Earl, on hearing the news, is overjoyed and starts jumping and clapping and shouting Hallelujahs.

“But Earl,” says God. “First do me one thing – this one thing that you so far have never done for me.”

“Anything!” says Earl. “Lord, I’ll do anything to win the lottery!”

“Earl,” says God. “Earl. For crying out loud, go buy a ticket.”

The punchline is the same line that the Ontario Gaming and Lottery Commission used to use for its ads: “If You Wanna Win, You Gotta Play”. Now, far from advocating that you should play the lottery (a losing bet, if there ever was one) – the point is that if you want to live a lucky life, you have to Do More Stuff.

Seriously, it’s that simple.

I consider myself pretty lucky, honestly. My new job? A HUGE longshot. I applied to a position in a city I’ve never been to, admittedly fairly weak on one of the areas the job posting stressed was critical. If I’d never applied, I wouldn’t have gotten it.

During my trip to PAX Prime last year, I made an excellent group of friends on the Tri-wizard Drinking Tour. I could have stayed in the hotel that night and gotten extra sleep for an early start to PAX, but instead I went out and Did Stuff and met some great people.

Or even how about my move to Ottawa four years ago? That put my career ahead light-years more than anything I could have accomplished by staying in Kingston. I caught a bunch of lucky breaks in jobs up there. And none of them would have happened if I hadn’t have gone out and tried.

Think about it in terms of physics: A thin sheet of ice will melt way faster than an ice cube of equivalent mass. Why is that? The sheet of ice has a greater surface area, thus more heat can enter it in the same period of time. It’s the same thing for luck. If you go out more, talk to more people, engage in more competitions, or apply for more jobs than someone else with the equivalent qualifications, you’ll simply be more “lucky” than them.

Sure, you’ll strike out as often as you get lucky. Hell, probably more often, honestly. But you’ll get lucky WAY more often than if you’d just stayed home and leveled another alt to 85, I guarantee you that, and you’ll come to forget about the times when things didn’t go right. Catch a couple big breaks – and you will, if you’re persistent – and the little misses will stop stinging.

And then you too will be lucky.

Goodbye Dreamhost. Hello Linode!
  • Charles



    Well stated!