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Black cat superstition

Make your own luck on Friday 13th

Black cat superstition

Make your own luck on Friday 13th

Have you ever thought you’re just a naturally unlucky person? How do you react when something bad happens to you? Do you consider it to be “just your luck”, or do you think about why it could be that fate seems to have conspired against you?

Western culture tells us that Friday 13th is an unlucky day, and fear of the date even has its own name – friggatriskaidekaphobia – coming from the Old Norse for ‘Friday’ and the Ancient Greek for the number 13.

Friggatriskaidekaphobiacs who want to justify their apprehension over dates like today’s might point out that some studies have linked unfortunate events to Friday 13th. One example of this is studies revealing that high numbers of car accidents happen on Friday 13th, although there are just as many (if not more) studies debunking this.

In cases where evidence seems to suggest more Friday 13th accidents, such as this Irish Independent article, analysts usually point out that rather than this being evidence of the day being unlucky, it’s more likely that the superstition attached to Friday 13th plays on the minds of motorists and causes them to drive in an irrational way. This could be an example of what psychologists call priming, where exposure to a stimulus (in this case, talk of Friday 13th being a day of bad luck) influences a response to another stimulus (allowing this thought to affect one’s driving).

There’s often a fine line between believing in bad luck and adopting a negative, defeatist mentality. At a Scrabble club I used to go to, there was a player who used to insist that his luck was terrible and that he was forever pulling bad tiles out of the bag while his opponents were blessed with favourable ones. However, top Scrabble players (better ones than I, I should stress) are able to gauge which tiles are left in the bag and which ones they need to get rid of from their rack to give themselves a statistically high chance of pulling out a useful set of letters. Yes, luck plays a part in Scrabble as it does in most games, but so too does probability – there’s more to it than pulling tiles out of a bag and hoping for the best.

We also often mistake probability as “spooky” coincidence. An example of this is the eerie feeling people tend to get if they think of someone, and then that person calls their phone or they bump into them in the street, but we should remember that this doesn’t happen often. Wouldn’t it be stranger if that NEVER happened? It would mean that if we didn’t want to see someone, all we would have to do is think of them.

The illusionist Derren Brown once gave a good demonstration of how what seems like remarkable powers or amazing coincidences can actually be an inevitable occurrence, when he successfully flipped a coin to land heads up 10 times in a row. The odds of doing this are one in 1,024.

However, he later revealed that the sequence of flipping 10 heads in a row was just the very end of a session of coin flipping that went on for over nine hours. Over that amount of time, achieving a sequence of 10 heads in a row is actually likely, and the longer it’s done for, the closer to a certainty it becomes.

The idea of doing something often enough until you get the right result cropped up in one of Darren’s recent Engaging Marketeer podcasts with film director Phil Claydon. Towards the end, Claydon discusses the phenomenon of being in the “right place at the right time”.

Claydon points out that although to others it might seem like he was in the right place in the right time to get his break in film directing, they might not be aware of how often he was trying to get that break, and how many approaches to decision-makers he made. He stresses that you might find you’ve been in the “right place” a year or two earlier, and the “right time” is yet to come.

It’s the same with applying for a job, landing clients, or trying to make a blog or video go viral. The more goes you have at it, the more likely it is that you’ll strike gold with one or two of them. You will have unsuccessful attempts, but if you bemoan your luck and give up, your luck won’t get any better.

So, defy superstition today by making your own luck. Start by speaking to Engage Web about how to bring traffic to your website that results in leads and sales.

John Murray

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