The Luck Factor, Richard Wiseman (Book Review/Summary)

I recently finished reading The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman and want to convey its messages to you today.

A while ago I wrote about how luck was one of the missing ingredients needed to succeed with Game. The question might be, then: “how do I increase my luck?” Well, the problem is that being a lucky person is more a state of mind than a thing that you are, if you forgive the cliche. This is where Wiseman’s book steps in, and is based on his data drawn from surveying people who consider themselves to be lucky. When asked, he found that roughly half of people responded as being lucky people, but only 20% said that they considered themselves unlucky. We should learn mindsets from those lucky people and stay away from the mindsets of the latter.

It’s important to highlight that it is the mindsets which we’re trying to take on here; you can’t increase your odds of winning the lottery beyond simply buying more tickets. But when we’re dealing with other people, then our belief that we are lucky people can have a real world effect. Throughout the book Wiseman encourages you to participate in your own little questionnaires to identify which mindsets you already have and where you are lacking. He identifies four key mindsets which lucky people tend to share:

  1. Maximise your chance opportunities
  2. Listen to your lucky hunches
  3. Expect good fortune
  4. Turn your bad luck into good

Maximise your chance opportunities

This is the first mindset and is a simple one which encourages you to take more risks. From a purely statistical point of view you’re more likely to win the lottery if you play it more times (later on there are mindsets which help you to get over the increased number of failures you’ll face by trying more). In Daygame that might mean doing more sets, but I don’t personally believe this means to simply approach as much as possible because it leads to burnout. Instead I recommend trying to increase the number of risks you’re taking in-set and with your leads.

This is the classic recommendation of “play to win and not just to lose.” But what does “just not to lose” actually mean? In my eyes it means playing it safe. Let’s say you’re currently doing a lot of your sets from a polite distance i.e just at the end of one arm’s length away from the girl. That’s playing not to lose because you’ll likely get a phone number due to you not posing as a sexual threat. What would happen if you took a little step forward and tried to finish the set within half an arm’s length? Some girls would move backward: let them redress the distance. Some, however, would accept your advance as a kind of escalation and would feel that you are a man who is going for what he wants. If she lets you in closer, as well, you will instantly feel an increase in the sexual tension. I’d much rather take two strong numbers than 10 flakey ones.

That’s more of a lower intermediate problem, so here is another one for the proper intermediates: taking a number when you should be trying for an i-date and the SDL. I’ve said many times that I think “always go for the SDL” is a stupid philosophy, but you could easily be leaving money on the table by only taking a number from a good set. One way to spot the signals to go for a SDL is to look back at all your first date lays which seemed on from the start. Now rewind to the set: was there anything there which would have told you you could have gone for the i-date and SDL?

Having a more relaxed attitude can help in spotting these opportunities to increase your risk. Part of relaxing yourself and actually seeing these opportunities is to view your life in “soft focus.” Rather than being focused on something to the point of distraction, take in the whole image. That sounds woolly, though, so one way to think about this is to remember the psychological experiment where you’re asked to count the number of times a set of people pass a basketball to each other. While you sit and count, a person in a gorilla costume walks by, and you never notice them. Essentially, don’t ever be so focused on one thing that you miss the gorilla! For example, you’re so focused on her asking questions and verbally investing that you miss her eye contact and willingness to let you stand close to her.

One note before moving on is that Wiseman suggests that you be more extroverted because you never know if the person in the queue at the coffee shop will become an important part of your business network. We can learn from this by throwing out little comments as we go about our lives and spotting how people react to them. You might notice an IOI in response to your comment and can build that into a lead. Alternatively, on the guy front, catching up with your wings and staying connected with them will improve your friendship and probably your time Daygaming together.

Listen to your lucky hunches

It’s hard to say whether people who consider themselves lucky actually have something different about them physiologically. It’s possible that lucky people release more dopamine, and dopamine guides their attention to salient parts of their environment which reflect danger or a chance to gain. Alternatively it is possible that lucky people simply believe more in their hunches, and so when they act on them they act with greater confidence and conviction, which causes people to react positively to them. Either way, you can allocate more belief to your hunches and try to have a selective memory for whether they go well or not. As another example of looking back at your lays, try to think how you felt in-set, or as you were going towards the set. If you can visualise that memory and bottle it up, and try to recreate it when going for other sets – as if the girl was giving you a hunch – then maybe your chances there will improve.

Additionally, Wiseman found that lucky people tend to take steps to try and boost their intuition, such as through meditation.

Expect good fortune

This is perhaps the hardest mindset to acquire, especially if you consider yourself to be a bit of a sad-sack. Perhaps the best way to inculcate this mindset is to simply say “yes” to everything that comes your way for a week. A lot of the time we can get caught up thinking about the risks of taking action, or experience inertia because we simply can’t be bothered to change our routine to try something new. Once you get going with it, however, you might find that you enjoy it. Even if you don’t, you’ll probably feel some satisfaction in knowing that you tried and it wasn’t for you. Once you can see that trying new things isn’t going to be bad, then you might start expecting better fortune in your future as new opportunities come your way. It should also encourage you to persist when chances seem slim and that your interactions with others will be automatically positive, which are part of this lucky mindset.

Turn your bad luck into good

This is an important mindset considering the amount of rejection that people face when practising Daygame, and it is as simple as the old saying of “look on the bright side of life,” “look at the glass as half full,” and “look for the silver lining.” When bad things happen, try to look for the silver lining to soften the blow. For example, a blowout might be a sign that you need to improve your stopping and so you take it as a win because you got more information on yourself. Furthermore, you can do what lucky people tend to do, which is to remind themselves that they’re lucky that things didn’t go worse. For example, you might have had a date to nowhere, but perhaps that’s better than having sat at home and been bored for hours. Lastly, lucky people tend not to dwell on misfortune: they immediately look forward to the future, understand that every “bad time” now is simply leading to a “good time” later on and take steps to limit their bad luck going forward.


I recommend picking up Wiseman’s book. It’s pretty cheap these days and won’t take you long to read. It might just help you with your results.

Yours unfaithfully,

Thomas Crown

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