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Mental Models
Featured Models

Surface Area of Luck

Luck, by definition, is about chance, but it's not totally out of your control. So why not use this model to increase your chance of luck?  The Surface Area of Luck, or your chance of being lucky, is equivalent to the action you take towards your passion, multiplied by the number of people you effectively communicate your passion and activities to. Put simply: Luck = (Passionate) Doing x (Effective) Telling. START DOING, AMPLIFY WITH TELLING. In his original post outlining this simple and powerful idea, entrepreneur and coder Jason Roberts explained that taking action towards your passion will develop expertise in that area. Further, that “when people become aware of your expertise, some percentage of them will take action to capture that value, but quite often it will be in a way you would never have predicted.” Roberts also pointed to the infectious nature of passion, and that taking action and sharing your passion will tend to attract others towards it, again amplified by the number of people who know about it.  EXPERIMENT AND TAKE RISKS. Tina Seelig, Stanford professor and the creator of Framestorming, has been studying entrepreneurs and luck for some time. Her reframing of how to view luck aligns well with this model. Seelig explains: “Luck is rarely a lightning strike, isolated and dramatic. It’s much more like the wind, blowing constantly. Sometimes it’s calm, and sometimes it blows in gusts. And sometimes it comes from directions that you didn’t even imagine.” To better 'catch luck', Seelig encourages you to consistently take small risks that push your comfort zone. In doing this, explore the types of risks you’re willing to take, and identify where you might challenge yourself. For example, you might explore financial risk, investing money in something; intellectual risk, playing with a new idea and challenging your assumptions; or social risk, talking to someone new.  Richard Wiseman, the author of the Luck Factor, agreed. His extensive research pointed to lucky people being the ones who were willing to continuously experiment and try new things.  THE CHALLENGE OF EFFECTIVE TELLING.  Obviously, 'effective telling' is not about pushing your passion onto anyone who dares come close to you. Rather, it involves effective networking and communication. This includes engaging with people from a place of care and generosity rather than focusing on selling or personal gain. It also means connecting with the right platforms and communities who might be interested in what you’re doing and are passionate about.  IN YOUR LATTICEWORK Use Ikigai or the Golden Circle to better align your ‘doing’ to your passion. The Golden Circle is particularly relevant when remaining open to unexpected opportunities that might look different from your plan but still address your underlying ‘why’. In terms of developing expertise, use Deliberate Practice and Double Loop Learning to ensure that you improve your skills and mental models as efficiently as possible in your chosen area.  The Surface Area of Luck requires you to better network and communicate what you're doing, so consider using Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence; storytelling techniques such as the Hero’s Journey; and communications techniques such as Aristotle’s Rhetoric.  Finally, in terms of understanding causal factors behind luck, you might want to consider Regression to the Mean and Probabilistic Thinking.

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