If we simply acknowledge how lucky we are right now, we would be halfway to increasing our luck. Many people do not attribute their success to luck, but rather to factors within their control. The number one lesson from Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder of Flickr’s career: ‘be super-lucky.” Luck played a part for many products, such as Facebook’s rollout strategy versus the half billion-dollar incumbent, MySpace, VHS’s lucky Hollywood traction against the technologically superior BetaMax. Other products included, Uber and AirBnb’s legal and regulatory victories against the deep-seated taxi and limousine and hotel commissions. Yet, most of us underestimate the effect luck plays against our own inherent skills.
This is known as the Better than Average Effect (BTAE). Our skills are better than average. So, how can we not be successful? In the new world of social media, celebrities, selfies, and humble brags, it is hard not to think that luck has no bearing. Even by sharing your story, you are the beneficiary of a huge amount of luck. Is there a way that we can increase our odds for success? How can we get luckier? We cannot control how lucky or unlucky we are. Some people succeed despite the odds, while others fail even with the best resources. However, once we acknowledge this luck we encounter more luck. We discover an important trait to help us increase it: humility.
1. Appearance of Humility
Humility appears to be directly correlated with luck. Whether you are increasing your chances of building the optimal team, finding new opportunities through your network of fans and “weak ties,” or showing investors your transparency, humble behavior helps you to “win friends, influence people,” and gives everyone a champion to root for. Think about the people that you meet whom you are rooting for, even if you are not an advisor or an investor. This often leads them to the right partners, customers, or investors.
2. Build the Best
Building a company is analogous to team sports; if you do not value your teammates, you will fail. Thus, we typically see the star athletes acknowledge their supporting staff: from interns to executives to teammates. Can the entrepreneur feel humbled? It may be your vision. However, your team’s execution determines success. Valuing everyone’s individual contribution and uniqueness is important. Would you want to work for the “idea guy” who is looking for the interchangeable part at Wharton Code Monkey? Would you rather be one of 416 employees who work at Brooklyn’s Cumberland Packing, the makers of Sugar in the Raw, of which founder Marvin Eisenstadt personally greets every morning! Being part of something bigger than you is one of the main reasons that people join a startup. As the captain of your team you need to not only make your team feel inspired, but valued. Having an inspired team paves the way to lucky doors.
3. Acknowledge Mistakes
Companies like Dell, Apple, and Target have gained more respect by acknowledging their mistakes and have swayed their customer base from customers to fans and supporters, who come out to defend companies when their detractors gang up on them. On the other hand, arrogant Internet companies have started to wither away their company’s prospects with lost customers, fans and investors. By staying humble, even those who were once viewed as the enemy or competitor can become acquirers, partners, or investors. Having the crowd on your side sometimes enables lucky doors to open.
4. Support Centre
Being humble means that you know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Customers, employees, and investors, like entrepreneurs that listen to others and admit they do not have all the answers. Nobody’s perfect. People like to feel that they have input that the entrepreneur weighed their words before making a decision. A humble entrepreneur can do one of the most difficult things for them: admit failure. Many entrepreneurs have a hard time acknowledging that they are in error but, like luck, the future is also usually out of your control. By showing your mold ability, ability to pivot, and imperfections, you’ll get investors willing to support you even after a failed venture and who will pave the way for new lucky doors to open.
As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make sure everyone you come into contact with feels valued, supported, liked, and respected and you’ll have an easier time getting those lucky doors to open.
Image credit: CC by Artotem