Dr. Richard Wiseman is a professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. For over a decade he conducted interviews and experiments to determine why some people seem luckier than others. Here’s what he found.

The findings have revealed that luck is not a magical ability or the result of random chance. Nor are people born lucky or unlucky. Instead, although lucky and unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behavior are responsible for much of their fortune.

Dr. Wiseman put his findings into a book, The Luck Factor. The book has been published with several subtitles since it came out in 2003. The one I liked best was “The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind.” He identified four principles of luck.

  • Maximize your chance opportunities
  • Listen to your lucky hunches
  • Expect good fortune
  • Turn bad luck into good

That made sense to me, but I wanted to investigate how the principles applied in apartment investing. So, I did some research of my own.

Over the last generation I’ve had substantial conversations with hundreds of millionaires, not all of whom became brokerage clients. I sought to learn what differentiated the investors with good results from the ones with great excuses. My summary, or “principles of wise/lucky thinking,” are based on Wiseman’s book and my own research.

To win the game, you must be in the game. Many people sit in the stands, while relatively few suit up and get into the competition. Stay involved, meet people, and get out more.

The people whom Wiseman called “lucky,” I call “wise.” They resisted impulsive actions and avoided foolish risks. Instead, they were more likely to ask their family and friends for perceptions, counsel, and connections. They were more likely to heed the counsel. Fools ignored counsel or did not seek any seasoned advice and plunged ahead.

Wealth building is a long game. Try things. Reflect on what happens. When you move a half step closer to your goal, keep moving.

Train yourself to find something good in every situation. No matter how lucky you are, you won’t win them all. Maybe the only good is that you learn that “It hurts like hell to do this, and I’m not going to do it anymore.” See? You just got smarter.

Baseball executive Branch Rickey said that “Luck is the residue of design.” I think luck is the residue of discipline. We urge our clients to review their investments regularly. We suggest that they evaluate opportunities rigorously.

The best investors aren’t “just lucky.” They do things to improve the odds of success. What about you?

What are you doing today to improve your odds of success?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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