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Tim Denning

Luck Is a Lie. You Make Your Own Luck.

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Tim Denning
Tim Denning

Here’s how you do it.
Photo by K B on Unsplash

The progress you get through luck is a burden. Ask any trust fund baby who inherited a Porsche 4WD from daddy.

My friend said to me recently, “If this startup does well I’m going to exit early before the big gains.”

Me: “Why the heck would you do that?”

Friend: “Have you seen the burden kids who are given money without working for it have to endure?”

He’s quitting his startup early so his kids inherit zero dollars. He’s building the business for fun rather than money.

That may *not* sound bizarre.

Here’s the kicker: he’s homeless with three children. He’s the strangest human I know. On the phone I feel I’m talking to Jack Dorsey. In real life he is invisible to most because of his downfall. Nobody knows his genius, and in a way I find it endearing beyond measure.

What’s he going to do? Make his own luck.

Seeking out hidden opportunities creates luck

Common excuses for doing nothing:

  • “It’s too crowded.”
  • “I’m too late.”
  • “I don’t have enough …”
  • “I’m too busy.”

You find luck when you look in places most people can’t see because of their excuses. If I said to writers go on Twitter and write threads, most would ignore me. The app has been around since 2009. Twitter has been done to death. Finding an audience takes more time.

When the rules get stricter the rewards become greater.

I love an old opportunity. The fact Twitter is so old means it’s proven. It’s better than jumping up and down in a Clubhouse full of voices desperate for attention dying to flog you useless advice they haven’t used themselves.

Look for the old school opportunities the majority ignore. The best opportunities have been right in front of you the whole time.

Embracing failure creates luck

People may think I’m lucky in business or in love. That’s a lie. I had seven failed startups and one successful one. I spent years in back-to-back romantic relationships that ended tears in public places because of my selfishness.

When you fail you get luckier.

Failure isn’t the end. Failure is learning. Imagine you got divorced tomorrow and said “Well, I learned about love today.” Or imagine you got fired from a job and walked away saying “I figured out that career isn’t the right one.”

Failure porn has blinded us from the truth. Failure is really clarity on what you do want and what you don’t want. Fail forward.

Working hard creates luck

Entrepreneur Naval Ravikant wrote a viral thread called How to Get Rich (without getting lucky). It’s genius advice he offers. What is subtly embedded in his post is the work hard philosophy. But he doesn’t suggest working hard for the rest of your life. Naval’s contention is to work hard long enough to figure out a handful of things.

He calls it specific knowledge. “Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you but will look like work to others.” When you work (play) hard for long enough, you learn a skill that can’t be replicated easily or taught at a university that wants 6-figures to obtain it.

Working hard annoys people because it’s cliche advice. But playing hard is what is really happening and that’s fun. Play hard to create luck.

Building your network creates luck

Opportunities come from other people. Read that again.

If you want to create luck you need people to have a habit of offering opportunities via email. The word network is misunderstood. Networking in the traditional sense means getting something. This approach is transactional, and transactional relationships are commoditized and come down to price. Networking is ugly. Building relationships is where the juice is.

Relationships are built by starting conversations and expecting zero in return. When you expect something in return from a person, what you’re really saying is “Pay me b*tch” without meaning to. Nobody wants to be anyone’s b*tch. Start more conversations with no hidden agenda to create more luck.

Choosing the right mindset creates luck

Mindset is contagious — Anthony Moore

Open-mindedness creates luck. Open your mind to the idea there is more than enough joy out there for you. Naval explains the idea: “Don’t partner with cynics and pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling.”

There are bad people. Politicians struggle to get it right. Wars rage on. Some say the global economy is about to collapse, and the US dollar is going to experience hyperinflation — a different view is the financial system is simply being rebuilt behind closed doors and will be fine.

You choose your own adventure. One side is chaos. The other side is a better future. Optimism naturally creates luck because optimism leads to opportunities that come from fixing problems, rather than commentating on problems and watching everything burn.

Optimism creates luck.

Finding coaches creates luck

Mentor = a free slave.
Coach = a paid adviser tied to the result.

We all need help. The mistake is the idea of mentorship. Nobody is running to your rescue for free. The advice that works is the advice given from a person who isn’t simply trying to get you out of their crowded inbox. The worst advice I ever got was from free Facebook Groups. The advice was mostly hidden complaints about everything that doesn’t work.

You get lucky when you spend time around people who have already created the luck you seek. Those people cost money to learn from. But it’s worth it, and you get the results faster.

Taking massive action creates luck

Action leads to luck.

This is my philosophy you can steal: It takes one year of solid effort to build something. It takes 5+ years to make it into something that will make you feel lucky for the rest of your life. This is the legitimate truth, no B.S.

Consistent action over 5 years makes you lucky because you get a glimpse at outcomes, and the opportunity to iterate on your mistakes so you can turn them into your advantages.

Action equals evidence. Evidence validates opportunities to get lucky. Start getting luckier today by taking tiny action.