What’s the luck surface area?
The term of luck surface area has been coined by Jason Roberts, tech entrepreneur.
His definition is: The Luck Surface Area, or your chance of being lucky, is equivalent to the action you take towards your passion, multiplied by the number of people you effectively communicate your passion.
Luck = (Passionate) Doing x (Effective) Telling.
The amount of luck you experience is directly proportional to how visible you are in your field.
Another one from Jason Roberts: It's a simple concept, but an extremely powerful one because what it implies is that you can directly control the amount of luck you receive. In other words, you make your own luck.
How to expand your luck surface area
Expanding your luck surface area can transform your life. Let's see how you can maximize your own luck.
Creating and showing your work online
There’s a great non fiction book I recommend: Show your work by Austin Kleon that talks about the importance of being discoverable by showcasing your work and all the benefits of it. This book is fully compatible for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion.
By sharing your work or projects online, you increase your probability to encounter new opportunities and catch luck.
Here are examples of the luck you can get from showing your work:
- You receive emails from people who appreciate your work
- You become known as the expert on topics X, Y, and Z
- You receive a job offer from someone who value your work
- Someone you don't know refers to you as a specialist in your field
- You’re invited to an event to speak about your insights
- You develop friendships with people in your field
A list of actions to show and promote your work online:
- Social media: posting your work, working on your personal brand
- Blogging: this I what I'm doing on this blog
- Building a newsletter, etc.
Internet allows you to reach people who live anywhere in the planet. That's extremely powerful.
Sharing your work online definitely expands your luck surface area.
Luck is linked to knowledge and skills.
The more you know, the more capable you are to spot and seize opportunities.
It's like having a wider range of tools. With more tools, you can tackle more jobs.
And the more you learn, the more interesting and attractive you are.
You’re more likely to attract potential employers, clients, collaborators, partners who’ll offer you opportunities.
More knowledge and skills opens more doors. It directly increases your chances to “get lucky”.
The best sources of knowledge are non fiction books, audiobooks, courses, podcasts, etc.
Side note: personally, I’ve never been particularly interested in networking. I don’t like the idea of “professionally interested relationships”.
Networking makes you meet new people. Each person you connect with potentially has access to different opportunities, ideas, and resources. The broader your network, the more likely you are to come across new opportunities.
In that sense, networking can expand your luck surface area.
What’s the risk surface area (or sh*t surface area) ?
The risk surface area (or sh*t surface area) is a simple concept that means the more stuff you have, the more things you manage and the more responsibilities you have, the more problems you're likely to face.
More possessions, more responsibilities, more commitments, more chances of facing problems, more mental load.
It's that simple.
For possessions, the more precious they are, the greater the potential for problems.
For example, imagine you own a valuable car.
If you find a scratch on it one day, it's likely to upset you.
But, if you own an everyday car and discover a similar scratch, you'll easily ignore it and carry on with your day.
A scratch on a valuable car is a problem. A scratch on an everyday car is not.
Here are examples of decisions that can increase your risk surface area:
- Getting famous: constant public exposure, privacy problems, public image to manage, dealing with criticism or unrealistic expectations.
- Having a big garden: high maintenance effort, increased costs for upkeep and landscaping challenges.
- Owning a lot of real estate: complex property management, tenant problems, handling rents or airbnb bookings, maintenance.
- Having investors in your capital: pressure to meet investor expectations, less freedom in decision-making, less capital and salaries for founders and employees, regular reporting,
- Hiring new people in your company: Integration challenges, more managerial responsibilities, potential interpersonal conflicts, higher operational costs.
- Buying a car without checking if it’s reliable: frequent breakdowns, higher repair costs, potential safety issues, and unreliability in daily use.
Warning: I’m not saying these things don’t bring any benefit. My point is that these can increase the amount and size of problems you face. And your mental load.
How to minimize your risk surface area
1. Embracing minimalism and simplicity
The fewer things you own, the fewer things can go wrong.
The less stuff you manage, the fewer problems you can face.
The less complex your possessions and commitments, the lower your risk of problems.
It's as simple as that.
Minimalism applies to business and entrepreneurship as well:
- The fewer employees you have, the less risk of problems.
- The fewer investors in your capital, the less risk of problems.
- The fewer customers, the fewer problems.
- The fewer contracts signed, the more free you are.
It's like walking with fewer objects in your backpack. A lighter backpack means more freedom and less risk of falling.
2. Choosing quality and reliability over quantity
When it comes to possessions or projects, choosing quality and reliability reduces the risk for problems.
Each time you buy a new thing, you buy potential problems you didn’t have before.
A single, well-chosen investment often brings less hassle than multiple mediocre ones.
That’s why getting well informed is essential when deciding what to buy or do.
When I bought my car, I spent hours doing research to find a car that was super reliable and fuel efficient.
Reliability was the first priority to minimize my risk surface area.
I checked: cars reliability reports, statistics, ratings, reviews. Once I had enough information and I was sure of the model to buy, I bought it.
And I never had any significant problem in 3 years while I know people who go to the garage every 6 months to fix their car. The difference: choosing quality / reliability.
3. Being healthy both mentally and physically
Obviously, having a healthy lifestyle decreases your risk surface area.
The more healthy you live, the less likely you are to have health problems.
By healthy I mean both physically and mentally.
You can have excellent physical health and terrible mental health. Therefore, you can still face health problems since both are directly linked.
Physical health is improved by exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep and proper hydration.
Mental health is improved with practicing mindfulness, meditation, healthy relationships and going to therapy.
4. Saying no to overcommitment
Saying not to responsibilities that are not important to you is essential.
And learning to say no, in general, is super important. I have a long way to go on this one but I’m progressing.
Protect your time and energy, they are your most valuable assets.
Expanding your luck surface area can simultaneously expand your risk surface area
We’ve seen that one major way to expand your luck surface area is to show your work and projects online.
That brings tons of benefits. But at the same time, it may bring problems you didn’t have before.
Haters, critics, trolls, more sollicitations, more messages to reply.
In that sense, sharing your work online expands both your luck and risk surface area.
This the path I’m taking right now by writing online and sharing my ideas.
I’m aware of the challenges that will arise and I’ll keep sharing my writing anyway.
Because I’m fully aligned with that and I want to see where this adventure will lead me.
I know that the new challenges that I’ll face will help me grow as a person.
And self-growth is a top priority.
The sweet spot: a balance between both
The sweet spot is to maintain a balance between your risk and luck surface area.
Expanding your luck surface area accelerates your self-growth.
Reducing your risk surface area limits your potential problems.
Embrace growth and stay aware of the challenges that may come with it.
Maximize your luck while keeping your challenges manageable.
I have always sought to minimize my problem surface area.
And I can definitely say that it pays off:
- Our company is bootstrapped, highly scalable, automated, with no employees
- I have few commitments and responsibilities. My mental load is low and I’m independent
- I only have a few possessions
It’s now time for me to significantly increase my luck surface area by sharing my thoughts, ideas and work on this blog and social media. The question is: how and when will I "get lucky"?
I'm excited by this new as I know it brings alignment and growth.
How are your risk and luck surface area?