‘What separates the winners and the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.’ Those are the words of one of the world’s wealthiest men, Donald Trump, and although the current recession may not see him joining the increasing queues of unemployed people there may be wisdom in his words.
The last time the UK experienced an economic slump such as this Londoners were singing Vera Lynn ballads whilst huddled together in the Underground. That’s according to the International Monetary Fund who said that this could be the deepest recession the UK has seen since World War II. One of the unfortunate offshoots of this is job loss and in the current economic climate it is becoming a common occurrence. Figures from The Office for National Statistics report that the unemployment rate was 7.9 per cent for the three months up to June 2011 and the number of unemployed people over the same quarter reached 2.49 million. That’s a staggering figure by any standards but even more worrying when you consider that there were only 449,000 job vacancies around the same period.
With these gloomy stats looming over our heads like a rain cloud during monsoon season it’s no wonder we’re all clinging onto our jobs, but when the worst does happen is re-jigging the CV or brushing up on skills enough to garner employment? Do we actually need luck on our side? According to Heather Summers, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practitioner and Co- author of the Book of Luck, we do, but Summers does not define ‘luck’ as the kooky concept by which we have come to know it, she claims that ‘luck’ is not a supernatural phenomenon beyond an individuals control but something that can be manipulated in favour of the person who wants more of it, ‘There are chance events and there are probably fewer of those than you might imagine,’ says Summers, ‘the rest of them are things that we have some kind of control over. The better we are at controlling those things the luckier we are and the more successful we are.’
‘Lucky people know how to focus on what they want and then do what they need to in order to get it. They don’t allow themselves to be distracted or deterred from their goal.’
We spend our lives establishing our careers and draw on it as a measure of our worth, so when it is unexpectedly torn away from us we can be left reeling under a wash of negative emotions, but research carried out by Summers and her co-author Anne Watson show that people who are in control of their reactions are luckier than people who think of themselves as victims, ‘A lucky person or a positive person would look upon it [losing a job] as an opportunity,’ says Summers, ‘there are people who are very positive but who still go through spells when they say “this is awful” but they reset their mindset. It’s about being in control of your emotions – just saying I can’t help what’s happened, I don’t like it but I can do something about it.’
Infact, recognising opportunity in chance encounters, positive or negative, plays a vital part in us leading our optimum lives. Losing a job can be the perfect time to pursue a long sought after goal that had previously been put on hold if we only stop to recall it. This is according to research conducted by Colleen Seifert, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, who has developed a concept called ‘predictive encoding’, that is the ability to foresee when a previously learned piece of knowledge is going to be useful. The key is to think about what you want and imagine the situations in which you’ll need to remember it, ‘The more you can anticipate circumstances predictive of successful goal pursuit, the better you will be at noticing true opportunities when they occur,’ says Seifert. For instance, if you have always dreamt of starting your own business but have put it on hold because of the security of a well-paid job then sudden unemployment may be an opportunity for you to start researching your venture. It is also important to keep your goal in mind in your day-to-day activities; visiting a bank to pay a bill may be the perfect time to book an appointment to see the small business loans advisor to discuss your idea. Constant recall of your goal at opportune times means that you will be more successful in achieving it.
There are many factors that encompass the mysterious – or not so mysterious – notion of luck. Here are a few ways in which you can make serendipity your servant.
Stick To Your Goal
Finishing what you’ve started is a key contributor to success. Lucky people know how to focus on what they want and then do what they need to in order to get it. They don’t allow themselves to be distracted from their goal.
Take a Risk
Albert Einstein said that, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ Research shows that people who take risks are more likely to be successful. This means reaching beyond your horizons so that new possibilities are presented to you. Taking a risk will take you out of your comfort zone but the benefits are seen in the results.
Clear Your Head
Intuition is the art of listening to your inner voice and learning to trust your instincts when making an important decision. However, Summers says that we naturally tend to deny our intuition due to living busy lives and concentrating on facts rather than our feelings. Taking the time to be still and reflect will allow your mind to process your thoughts and let your inner voice emerge.
Lucky people tend to be more outgoing and actively engage in relationships. Developing a network of connections means you can draw on a large circle of people who can help you towards your goal. It can be daunting navigating around a room of complete strangers but knowing that you may be only a conversation away from realising your dream should give you the courage to do it.
It’s easy to feel gloomy about job prospects with a constant barrage of news reports about rising unemployment, but by redefining our concept of luck we can be prepared for opportunity at the most unlikely times and in the most unlikely of places. Trump says that, ‘Everything in life is Luck’ and with his catalogue of fortune it’s difficult disagree.
When Woolworths went into administration, in 2009, it closed 815 branches of it’s store across the UK. Claire Robertson, ex-manager of the Dorset branch, decided to take action. She won the financial backing of a consortium, which enabled her to reopen the store under the new name of Wellworths and went on to recruit 20 of her former colleagues.
After her separation from her husband JK Rowling moved to Edinburgh with her daughter, Jessica. She was unemployed and living in a small apartment whilst relying on state benefits to survive. During this time Rowling did most of her writing, taking any opportune moment to work on her stories. She went on to create the formidable Harry Potter series. The 2010 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling’s fortune at £530 million, ranking her as the tenth richest woman in Scotland.
The stand-up comic starred in her own hit show, Ellen, in the mid-1990s, but ratings suffered after DeGeneres came out as a lesbian and the show was cancelled after four seasons. From then on her career crumbled and she found it difficult to find work until 2003, when she reinvented herself as a talk show host quickly winning over audiences and earning herself multiple Emmy awards. In 2010 Forbes estimated DeGeneres’ net worth to be $45 million and ranked her as the tenth most powerful woman in the world.
The Book of Luck (Capstone £12.99)
Contributing Writer: Ambur Beg