Four Ways to improve your Luck in 2021

By Andy Nairn

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Andy Nairn

Luck is a 4 letter world in business circles. Only 2% of management journals mention the subject and when they do, it's usually with disdain. Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, sums up the conventional view – at least in the West. He says that "Luck is just an excuse for not working hard enough."

Now, every entrepreneur knows that long hours and sleepless nights come with the job. But what if we could work more effectively, by making more of the opportunities that come our way? There's a growing body of evidence that suggests luck isn't just a shadowy force that we must submit to – it's a factor we can influence. In fact, we can all stack the odds in our companies' favour if we do 4 key things:

Appreciate what we've got

Studies show that individuals are more likely to succeed if they take time to recognise the good things in their lives. This also applies to organizations. Many companies are blind to the advantages that they enjoy. They overlook their people, their brand heritage or their super-fans. Alternatively they don't appreciate the value of their owned media channels or the data that they hold. Often, the more familiar these assets are, the more invisible they become. So a big first step towards improving your luck is to make a list of all the gifts at your disposal: often you will find that the answer is sitting right under your nose.

Look out for opportunities everywhere

What if your initial audit doesn't reveal any hidden assets though? In the unlikely event that this happens (it's more likely that you've missed something), keep your eyes open for opportunities elsewhere.Make a point of looking at other industries, sectors and cultures. Better still, see what you can learn from completely different areas like sport, music, art, psychology, film, politics or nature. Many of the biggest breakthroughs in business have happened outside of office hours. So fill your life with diverse influences, go for a walk in the great outdoors or cultivate a new hobby. All of these will increase your chances of striking it lucky, next time you think about work.

Turn misfortune into good fortune

Right now, many businesses are obviously dealing with unprecedented challenges, due to the pandemic. But the most successful businesses have always found ways to turn bad luck into good luck. Crises can create moments to rethink old assumptions. Complaints and criticism can provoke new ideas. Limited budgets and time constraints can force companies to think more creatively. Lisa Su (the inspirational CEO of AMD) is a big believer in luck and says the best advice she was ever given was to "run towards problems." So write down your top 5 challenges and then ask yourself how they might actually be opportunities.

Practise being lucky every day

The real gains come when you build luck into your daily routines and processes. This might sound like a contradiction in termsbut smart companies are increasingly realising that "happy accidents" don't have to happen by accident. For instance you can set up your office space so that different departments connect with each other more frequently (as Apple and Pixar have done). Or you can ring-fence time for employees to pursue passion projects (as 3M and Google do). Or you can just hire more diversely (as every smart company is trying to do right now). All of these maximise the chances of lucky breakthroughs, by encouraging the cross-fertilization of ideas every day.

Interestingly, many of the strategies outlined above are inspired by Eastern philosophy, where concepts like luck, gratitude and karma have long been part of the culture. Which just goes to show that old ideas are sometimes the best ones. Sure, hard work is still crucial but why not bring yourself a little bit of luck too?

Andy Nairn is a founder of creative agency Lucky Generals and the author of a new book Go Luck Yourself, which is now available in India at

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