Can You Learn to Be Lucky: a Fast Company Best Business Book of 2018!


Can You Learn to Be Lucky? was just named one of Fast Company‘s Best Business Books of 2018!

Here’s a secret: even though it’s published by Portfolio, Penguin’s business imprint, I don’t really think of it as a business book. Most of the information pertaining specifically to organizations was cut from the final draft. The book is about social decision-making and how to be chosen by others, how random these decisions or factors influencing outcomes can be, and how to thrive despite this inherent randomness.

In hindsight, I wish I would have dedicated more pages to the importance of diversification. In every aspect of life that contains inherent uncertainties, the more baskets you can put your eggs in, the better: investing, work projects/companies, income/having clients, building relationships, mastering skills. Anything that is singular is fragile.

The process of publishing the book itself also taught me a lot about luck and randomness. I’ll be putting all of these lessons to use when the paperback comes out.

The Starr Report: Back It Up

A promise to make a new video each week proves to be no match for a family tragedy. One of the keys to getting lucky is to keep bad luck as far away as possible. Here, I share what I learned—which would make my grandpa proud.

What do you need to back up in 2019? Hint: as much as possible!

The Starr Report: The One Simple Trick to Writing a Book

I’m very happy to report that video #1 of The Starr Report is officially here! Every week, I’ll be uploading a new video. If you like it, subscribe and spread the word!

In the first episode, I reveal the one simple trick to writing a book and starting a video series.

The baskets we use to store our self-esteem eggs: contingencies of self-worth

The way we evaluate things is like a balancing scale: when we have no opinion about something, it’s empty. But once we start gathering positive and negative information, we start adding to the sides. If we’ve collected more positive information, eventually it starts leaning to one side:

If we hear a few negative comments about a brand, for example, it becomes easier to process negative information about that brand. Our brain is a lazy prediction-machine, and it gravitates towards information that confirms our hunches. It’s easy to back up our biases and hunches. Not only is it surprisingly difficult to change our mind, but it’s hard just to learn information that goes against our beliefs.

The most influential information that we ever learn is about ourselves.
In a series of studies, Duke’s Mark Leary demonstrated how much exclusion affected subjects’ self-esteem.
“We were measuring emotional variables [and] slipped in a measure of how people felt about themselves at the time. No matter what other experiences people were having, when they felt rejected, their own judgements of themselves were going down.
“Why is our self-image so tied to what other people think of us?”
How we feel about ourselves depends on our perception of being accepted or rejected by others. Feeling rejected adds a marble to the “we’re not worthy!” side of our scale.
We start processing information about whether we feel accepted or rejected at birth. How much we feel unconditionally loved by our family sets the stage for those initial marbles that we add to the scale, the ones signaling “I am worthy of love and everything is going to be okay!”
But even if we start the day with a head full of promise, we might return home, slouching and defeated.
Eventually, bad things happen; at some point in our lives, we learn that we’re not the belle of the ball. Our self-concept gets shaped around what we think we have to do to be seen as worthy once again. For example:
  • If classmates bullied you during gym class—but wanted your help during social studies—you might think of your self-worth as devalued during physical activities, and valued during academics.
  • If you were praised for being “pretty,” you might tie your self-worth to your physical appearance.
  • If you were shown more love when you helped others, you might think that being of service is a requirement for love.
  • Did you get more attention from a parent when you won something? You might devote more time to achieving things.
Feeling like we have to meet certain conditions to receive love or prevent bad things (abandonment, being made fun of) causes people to develop contingencies of self-worth, beliefs about what we have to do or who have to be in order to have value; they’re the different buckets of life into which we put our self-esteem eggs.
These contingencies can be an asset because they can motivate us to accomplish great things. But they come at a cost.
The more compartmentalized our self-concept is, the more our self-esteem depends on external feedback, like achievement or applause. We spend our life in pursuit of fragile “I am worthy!” eggs, rather than carrying a backpack of resilient markers signaling “I am worthy.”

Needing external approval to feel good about yourself is a recipe for disaster.

Developing a solid sense of self requires us to get self-esteem from inside. Things will be okay if you lose, leave the house without makeup, spend more time on self-care, or fall short of your goals. Those things are all part of being human.
One problem I see often is that once people get an idea of what they have to do/who they have to be in order to stay in the good graces of others, they rarely question that belief. They often don’t even realize that they have it. It’s like learning that opening a door requires using a key and knocking. You never realize that you don’t have to knock because it’s simply what you’ve always done.
A lot of people sell themselves short because before they feel ready to venture out, they’re convinced that they have to do X in order for things to be okay: make a certain amount of money, spend hours making complicated holiday plans, look a certain way—unknowingly complicating their lives. They’re convinced that they have to succeed at everything they try.
You don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love and respect.
Things will be okay if you spend less time on basic life maintenance tasks.
Things will be okay if you fail, provided you get up afterwards.
Don’t base your self-esteem on outcomes.

Ready to get lucky?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

® 2012-2018 Karla Starr | All rights reserved | Privacy Policy

Can You Learn to be Lucky: Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others by Karla Starr

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