Copyright ©2006 by Paul Niquette.  All rights reserved.

lucky adj. Having or bringing good fortune; blessed with good fortune;  tending to favor or bring good luck.

The problem for me with the word 'lucky' is that its true significance eludes me.  Whereas an accident is often described as being unlucky, surviving it is just as often attributed to being lucky.  Does that really make sense?  Oh sure, people say things like, "I'd rather be lucky than smart," but that is a false dichotomy if ever there was one.

'Lucky' may be a synonym for 'happy' or for 'successful' (tinctured with modesty), but 'lucky' applies only to the past and offers no protection against being unlucky in the future.  Superstitions feast on that dilemma.  Casinos exploit the opposite version in what mathematicians call  "the gambler's ruin."

Whatever its retrospective meaning, the concept of being lucky has no predictive value -- and therefore, at least to me, the word 'lucky' has no use, period.  We can stop right there, apart from one exception I can think of...

A decade ago, I discovered a new ploy for the interview game (see cunning).   I cheerfully ask, "Do you consider yourself to be lucky?"  It is not intended as a stress question.  Often, however, the candidate will become quite fidgety.  Sure, the answer can be a simple 'yes' or 'no', but I never hear either.

  • In an interview, what applicant for a job would ever say, "No, I do not consider myself to be lucky"?  (Fine, don't let the door-knob hit ya where the good lord split ya.)
  • Nobody has ever told me, "Yes, I consider myself to be lucky."  A typical candidate may actually be both happy and successful -- but also aware that the interview game is not a time for modesty.
It could be that candidates sense my antipathy for the concept, which is just fine with me.

The answer you will most likely hear is an oxymoron: "I make my own luck."  But imagine the predictive insights you will get when you ask, "How?"

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