Getting Lucky in Utah
4 minute read
The average Utahan (a word I very recently learned how to properly pronounce—no small for feat for a boy raised in the derrty south) is 29 years old, married, conservative, white, “barely” male (49% of the population is female), stands 5’8”, weighs 170lbs, lives in a two bedroom house with 2.14 other people, and goes to church at least once a week. I, ladies and gentlemen, am NOT your average Utahan—and those who know me personally would attest to the fact that I am VERY MUCH SO not the average Utahan. So how did I find myself happily, albeit somewhat nervously, standing outside the Salt Lake City Airport waiting to be picked up by a person I’d never seen or spoken to before? Why would I spend my hard earned cash to fly through all four continental US time zones (twice) and spend forty eight rainy and partially cloudy hours with a room full of people I’d never met in my life?
To get lucky, my friends. To get very lucky… But perhaps not in the way you’re thinking.
According to Jim Collins, famed business consultant, author of NYT bestseller Good to Great, luck is “any unexpected event that has an appreciable and positive affect on our lives” and in today’s high speed, hyper-connected, hypercompetitive world where virtually everyone has, access to all the worlds information, resources and technology we need more than ever before. In fact, it seems that luck is becoming the only thing that separates the good from the truly great. (Collins, a business consultant first suggests, in his book Great by Choice, that the best way to increase your ROI, return on investment, is to increase you ROL, return on luck).
But why, you might be asking yourself—especially if you knew me—why would I, Mr. Tall, Dark and Not-your-average-Utahan-ness, ever have a hard time getting lucky? Or any other modern human, for that matter, with unprecedented access to all the world’s stuff and people ever need help in the luck department? Precisely because we’re so damn human and modern that we struggle with creating luck.
Luck by definition is dependent upon the unexpected and unpredictable, what some would call chance (think about the term chance encounter). However humans are by nature experts at mitigating risks, avoiding the unexpected and unpredictable. One could make the case that the entirety of human industry is the pursuit of achieving a world in which we never have to be confronted with the unknown again.
It is now easier than ever before to create the world the around us in our own image. We “like” and “unlike”, “friend” and “un-friend” each other from the comfort and safety of our own homes and mobile phones. With the touch of a button we create communities, locations, information, and entertainment custom fit to our liking and likeness—without the least bit reminder of all the people, places and things we’re leaving behind.
[aesop_quote background=”#282828” text=”#FFFFFF” width=”100%” align=”center” size=”2” quote=”With our ever-evolving technology and convenience we tremendously increase our immediate sense of comfort and security, but for all this we must pay a price: luck.” parallax=”off” direction=”left”]
As our ability to control our personal environments goes up, the likelihood of us being confronted by truly foreign, unexpected and unpredictable people, things, and ideas goes down, and by extension we miss out on countless opportunities to be truly awed, inspired, and touched by the hand of luck.
So how do we beat this curse of our technological age? How do we increase our luck?
We go old school. We turn off the computer and get outside: outside of our seats, our homes, our gyms, cities, neighborhoods, towns, outside of online forums where we safely lob ideas across the digital divide, outside of our ethnic and lifestyle enclaves where we narcissistically revel in the comfort of sameness, outside of ourselves and our comfort zones. We take to the streets and bump into complete strangers for the mere purpose of bumping into them. We increase our collisions. We increase our exposure to unexpected people and events in real time and real space. And by doing so, we increase our luck. And when we return to our homes we increase the luck of others in our homes.
And that’s what precisely what forty other well-intentioned strangers and I did in Utah at the Motivate Summit. For 48 glorious hours we collided with, bumped into, brushed up against, tripped over, and butted heads, hearts, and bodies with each other. We challenged each other’s ideas and physical space. We ate, drank, laughed, criticized and comforted one another. And in the end we gave each other the precious gift of luck.
The short period following the Motivate Summit has proven to be one of my most productive and creative of the last year. Many other participants have relayed the same message. I’m looking forward to attending the next Motivate and getting lucky again.