Good luck = the absence of bad luck

Sonnie Bailey

20 February 2016

I’ve already said that if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably incredibly lucky – by virtue of being born, and of the time and place of our birth. These things were out of our control, but in the broader context of human history, we’ve won the lottery. 

I think it’s also worth pointing out that one of the best forms of good luck is the absence of bad luck. 

I’m a lucky person. There are certainly a few positive things that I can put this down to. But as much as any of these things, it’s because I’ve had very limited bad luck in my life. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have any major health issues. No one close to me has suffered any major misfortune. My life hasn’t been shaped by tragedy in any form. 

I like thinking in terms of “luck” rather than “risk” because talking about being lucky has positive connotations, whereas talking about managing risk connotes focusing on the downside.

And it’s important to focus on the upside of uncertainty. But we also need to try to limit your exposure to bad luck. The defensive side of managing luck is every bit as important as the offensive side of courting luck.

As Kenny Rogers sings in “The Gambler”, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run”. It’s great to have a few good hands. But if you want to win, you need to walk away from the table a winner. 

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