A couple of friends and I were practicing Acro Yogo in a park last weekend when I spotted a four leaf clover. I didn't Instagram that one(because I am trying to avoid snapping and instagramming every moment of my life) but if you check out my Instagram you will see several other posts where I spotted a four clover:
Spotting four leaf clovers is a common occurrence for me. When I tell people that they typically same something like "Wow, I have never seen one before. You must be lucky".
That makes me wonder why do they consider me 'Lucky'? Do I have a supernatural advantage over other people that allows me to spot these four leaf clovers? Or do I have a statistical advantage over the other person because when I was 9 or 10 I developed the quirky habit of passively scanning hundreds clovers for the ones with four leafs when in the presence of clover fields?
I doubt it is the former. It is simple mathematics: if you spend more time searching for something or at minimum being open to the idea that you will find something then statistically you are more likely to find what you're looking for.
Another Example Of The Scanning Habit:
Think about how Law Enforcement Officers and Armed Forces are trained to have excellent situational awareness. They are constantly scanning their environments for threats. The majority of people I know don't have to worry about these threats on a daily basis(thanks to the men and women that serve and protect. Thank you for your service).
The Law Enforcement Officers and Armed Forces spot an abnormally high amount of potential threats even when out of uniform or off duty compared to the rest of the population because they are trained to scan their environments for it.
If you read my book Hacking Fear you will read about how people identify with the Labels put on them. Either internally or externally. Think about the label's you have put on yourself. Do you think yourself 'Lucky'? Well that is better than nothing. A person who says "I have the worst luck when it comes to XYZ" is labeling themselves as unlucky. This can have the effect of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Labeling yourself as ‘Unlucky’:
Let's say for example you think the following is true: "I have the worst luck when it comes to buying cars". If you identify this as a fact then it will most likely affect your behavior. You know “I have bad luck buying” cars so you have come to terms with the fact(at least in your head) that you are going to get screwed no matter what you do. No matter how many dealerships you visit or cars you test drive or Craigs List ads you check out you believe you are bound to get the short end of the stick.
If you really think this then why bother shopping around. It would be to your advantage to waste as little time as possible on the activity of buying a car. So instead of going to multiple dealerships, comparing various prices, and searching for sales you just go into the dealership and try buy the first thing in your budget.
When it comes time to negotiate with the sales person and they won't budge.You know you could walk away from this deal and try another dealer but in your head you belive “I have the worst luck buying cars” and it inevitable you would have to pay full price for the car. So you cave and agree to pay full price. This re-enforces in your mind your self applied label “I have the worst luck buying cars”.
Not to add insult to injury but some people unintentionally apply the scanning habit with the self applied negative label. This means eventually you will be driving your new car and spot an ad for the same car at a lower price and think to yourself "Damn! I have the worst luck buying cars".
Labeling yourself as ‘Lucky’:
Now let’s flip that self applied label. You get it in your head that "I have the best luck buying cars". When it comes time to buy a car you casually go to the first dealer and start to look around. You don't find anything that peaks your interest but you don't worry. You will find something somewhere else because you know "I have the best luck buying cars" and it is inevitable that eventually you will find a deal. You continue to do this and passively scan the Sunday ads looking for deals until you spot one.
When you go into the dealership and the sales person refuses to budge on the price you have no problem walking away because you know there are plenty more cars out there and since "I have the best luck finding cars" you can do better than what the salesperson is asking for it. As you try to walk away the salesperson caves and give you a great price on the vehicle.
All of this reinforces the label in your head that "I have the best luck buying cars"
Some might look at the well renound business tycoons of their time and think "Man they were Lucky to find such an awesome opportunity". Sure there is a level of chance and randomness in any situation. But do you think these highly successful people are just sitting around snapchatting each other and just trip and fall into a profitable business? I doubt it. They are studying, reading the trades, scanning the room at networking events, etc.
As I get into real estate more I learned there is a concept called "Driving For Dollars". It means driving around neighborhoods looking for properties that are not listed yet that could be a solid investment. Ideally these properties have NOT been listed in the publications where other investors look for properties yet. Therefore there is little competition to drive the price of the purchase up making it a better investment.
When a real estate investor finds a property this way and makes a good investment does that mean they were 'Lucky' implying they have a supernatural advantage or that they had developed the habit of constantly scanning their environment for something they wanted to find?
Is Matt Lucky:
I do not consider myself to be ‘Lucky’ as in I have a supernatural advantage. I do however consider myself to be ‘Fortunate’ as in I have had good fortune in the past. Good things have happened to me. And sure, some of those good things were completely by chance. For example how I got into coaching by getting hit by a car. An odd turn of random events.
What I really try to do is cultivate habits and a mindset that when applied everyday give me a statistical advantage. Here are a few labels that I have applied to myself that I find help me and might help you.
NOTE: They are phrased in the ‘I’ or ‘me’ not because I am super self absorbed(I kinda am) but because it is how you would apply them to yourself in your head
I am capable of whatever I put my mind to:
In reality I might be or I might not be. But because I believe this it makes it easier for me to mentally justify expending more time and energy in pursuit of my goals. Any amount of energy expended towards a task has a statistical advantage of success over zero amount of energy put towards a task.
My hero and those I want to emulate are no more special than I am:
A lot of us look at the sport stars and billionaires and think “Wow I could never do that” or “I could never be that dedicated. That is crazy”. I look at these people and think “They were just like me once. In a couple of years that could be me.”
A special note for those of you that just thought “I am too old to be like my hero” I want you to watch the first 30 seconds of this trailer for the movie “The Founder”. It’s about Ray Kroc the man who built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world. Though his tactics were debatable considering the age at which he got into the fast food business he accomplished a hell of a lot. And as he says in the trailer “One Word: ‘Persistence’”. I doubt he would have been able to persist as long as he did if he did not believe 100% that he was capable of making all of that happen.
I will find opportunities that most others won't because I will seek them out:
This helps me keep an open mind and my eyes on the horizon constantly searching for opportunities. Not just in business but just in life. Opportunities to experience amazing things that other people might just walk by and would never get the pleasure of knowing.
I am... or I will...:
Recently I adopted the habit of replacing “I am trying to...” with “I will...”. I posted on Facebook a post designed to help me reach fitness goal by a specific date by having my fittness friends hold me accountable(I have written about this in previous fitness posts. Here is a portion of my full Facebook post:
“I weighed in at 189 this morning and I am going to drop that winter weight down to 179 by June 12th”
Notice I did not say that “I am going to try to...” or even “I plan on...”. Instead I said “I will”. Is it possible that I might fail? Yes, extremely. But in my head I don’t want to admit that possibility exists. I want to believe in it so firmly that my behavior adjusts itself accordingly. A person that will drop weight won’t eat 2 cinnabuns at 11PM at night(like I did the Wed before I made that statement.
_NOTE: As of writing this I am around 187 and I aim to weigh in at 185 on Monday. I am going to weigh in at 179 on June 12th
Beyond specific goals I use the “I am...” with a couple of other things.“I am patient” allows me to overlook small short term gains for larger long term wins. Labeling myself with “I am disciplined” encourages me to behave as I expect a disciplined person to behave. In reality am I 100% perfectly patient and disciplined? My occasional Amazon spending sprees would indicate no but I bet I have significantly fewer impulse purchase than a person that identifies themselves as “No patient” and “Not disciplined”
Obviously believing something, choosing your labels, and spotting opportunities are only a small part of the battle. Hard work is key as well. Our Real Estate investor wouldn't have made a single dollar without a lot of work after finding their diamond in the rough. The lucky person’s automobile search took more time and effort in the long run. But would they have put in the time and effort if they didn’t have the mindset that eventually, on a long enough timeline, it would work out?
Some people work hard their entire lives powering forward with their head down at their desk and never stop to look around to spot opportunities that, in reality, are all around us every day. Stop and 'smell the clovers' every once in awhile. Who knows? You might just get Lucky...
PS: Didn’t know where to throw this reference in but there are some really good pratical tips on how to start appying these positive labels to yourself through repition in this Tim Ferriss Show Podcast with the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams. I haven't adapted all of his practices yet but I will experiment with them soon.