Book Review: Make Your Own Luck

AutumnSome luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.

-Garrison Keillor

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Define Luck.

For some, Luck is…

  • A Shell game – a set up for people to lose their money
  • The Hand of the Unmoved Mover (God)
  • Hard to come by
  • From the devil
  • Your favorite definition….

I have struggled with each of these definitions, having lived through various times in my life and career when each of them has made more sense than the others.

For Eileen C. Shapiro and Howard H. Stevenson, the authors of Make Your Own Luck, Luck is a strictly a matter of taking smarter risks in business. Every action you take is a bet. “Good Luck” occurs when you predict and bet on a winning result using the Smart Gambler’s Credo:

Smart Gambler’s Credo

The Gambler's Credo

They contend that Luck depends on a “Gambler’s Dozen” of 12 skills that help improve your Predictive Intelligence: or your ability to pick the right action that brings you the results you want.

Whether or not you buy into their “Gambler’s Dozen,” you have to admit that the idea of pinning Luck down to decisions under your control is a highly appealing one.

Using real-life examples, they walk readers through their OOPA! process: Orient, Organize, Predict and Act to demonstrate how each the 12 skills will improve your ability to make better bets.

I liked the book because it:

  1. Changed my perception of Luck
    The book made me view Luck as something that can be managed, rather than some Random Force that impacts my life for good or ill. Luck is all a matter of good risk management, they seem to say.  Just identify what you want, evaluate the situation you’re in, look at future trends and make decisions based on facts.
  2. Created a process to walk through
    And I have to admit that I have a weakness for anything that even hints of a process. OOPA! for goodness sake reminds me of Plan Do Study and Act (PDSA). I hate acronyms, but acronyms that remind you how to think critically about your decisions are OK by me.
  3. Recommended ways to improve my decision-making skills
    The authors provide tips on:
    Making Jump Bets: or should you make a radical shift in your life or career now?
    – Domino Effects: identifying the follow-on decisions that you will be locked into as a result of your decision

Buying into the authors’ definition of Luck is not essential to enjoying and benefiting from the book’s advice.  Improving your decision-making skills in these precarious times is important enough to warrant a quick read through of this book. Do you know of other books that provide advice on how to improve decision-making?  Leave me a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.


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