Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

I know St. Patrick’s Day has passed, but it got me thinking about the concept of luck.

Have you ever met people who are consistently lucky? It is as if they are always in the right place at the right time. Meanwhile, you feel as though the cards of fate have dealt you a bum hand and you have to work extraordinarily hard to make anything happen.

The truth is, you can create your own luck.

Allow me to illustrate my point mathematically.

Imagine a room full of people. What are the odds of two people in that room having the same birthday, both the month and day?

For those of you who enjoy probability, you know that 367 people are needed to guarantee that two people in a room have the same birthday. There are 366 days in a leap year, so you need one person for each day, plus one.

But it gets more interesting if you ask the question, “How many people do you need in a room to have a 50 percent chance that two people will have the same birthday?” Some people immediately assume it is half of 367, or roughly 184. While that is a logical guess, it is actually incorrect. In fact, you would only need 23 people. Shocking? Try it some time and see what happens. With just 40 people you will have a nearly 90 percent chance that two individuals will have the same birthday.

Now I’d like you to consider how many people you would need in a room to have a 50 percent chance that two people share a particular birthday? For example, I was born on April 25. How many people would I need to have in a room to have a 50 percent chance that there is another person with my exact birthday? Surprisingly, the number now increases to over 600.

My point? If you look at these simple, yet surprising mathematics, you will discover that the likelihood of ANY event happening is quite high. The likelihood of a PARTICULAR event happening is quite low. How does this relate to luck? Well, luck, in many respects, is a game of numbers and probability.

If you are wed to things in your business, working out in a particular way, it requires a large number of things coming together in a specific way—just like looking for a particular birthday. What particular outcomes are you seeking that may be probabilistically limiting? Do you have a particular view of how your business should look? Do you believe that a particular business partner is the key to your success? Are there specific clients that you feel you must land? Are there particular milestones you must hit? Are there technologies you must develop?

The more you are focused on these specific results, mathematically speaking, the less probable the achievement. But if you are willing to think more broadly and be open to other possible outcomes, your luck will seem to magically appear…

Read the rest of this article on the American Express OPEN Forum

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