How lucky are you?

Richard Wiseman, of University of Hertfordshire in UK, handed test subjects in his laboratory a newspaper and asked each of them to count all the photos inside. Wiseman picked subjects for this experiment by recruiting individuals who identified themselves as being either extremely lucky or terribly unlucky.  He wanted to see whether those people whose lives are filled with good fortune actually see the world differently than do those who are star-crossed.

In the experiment, the unlucky people took several minutes to count all the photos in the newspaper, and most came back with an incorrect answer.  The lucky people, on the other hand, took only a few seconds to find an answer, and they were all correct.  Why was this?


Wiseman designed special newspapers for this experiment. Inside the front cover of each newspaper there was a two-inch high message that read, “Stop Counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”  Both groups were looking for photos, as requested, but the lucky people also read this message and responded accordingly.  In contrast, the unlucky people were focused only on counting the photos – since that was their specific assignment – and they didnt see the message with the answer they needed.

To tes this further, Wiseman gave the unlucky participants another shot at success. Halfway through the newspaper he placed a second large notice that said, “Stop Counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250.” Not a single person claimed the money.  

By ignoring information in your environment, you miss important clues that are they keys to solving problems.  In fact, the world is filled with endless two inch-high message, and it is up to each of us in discover them. 

Two young fish swim past an older fish.  As they pass the older fish, he says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The two young fish continue on for a while until one eventually asks the other, “What the heck is water?”

The message in this fable, is that we so often don’t notice the things that are most important in our lives. We are literally blind to the “Water”. Prepare to be keen observers and see how to see the “water” in our lives as they identify surprising and valuable opportunities. Be keen observers. 

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