I believe that we use the word luck too liberally; we apply it like a big, fat paintbrush to almost everything we can’t understand or explain. People often use luck and intuition interchangeably, and it makes me cringe a little. Here’s how I define luck, why I don’t think it’s the same thing as intuition, and why the difference between them is so important.
What we’re getting wrong about luck.
We have all been on the receiving end of someone saying, “Oh you’re so lucky” when we catch a break, get a promotion, find love, buy a house, or go on a nice vacation.
When people say that somebody else is lucky, they’re usually implying (purposefully or not) that the other person didn’t earn it, work for it, or in some sense deserve it, right?
Saying someone was lucky in these scenarios implies that the outcome was somehow outside of their control. It could have happened to anyone, but the Universe is random, and, for some reason, it’s happening to you. Lucky you.
But this perspective is problematic for a few reasons: For one, it negates the months of planning it took to book that trip, the research and saving it took to buy that house, and the hours and hours of dating that it took to meet that special someone.
It dismisses everything that happened behind the scenes. If someone sees an article about you, calls you up, and invites you to be on a TV show and that segment gives you opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise, that is indeed a lucky break. But is it really pure luck? Didn’t you work unnoticed for a long time before you got to that initial phone call?
When it comes to hardships, we do the same thing: We tell people who get a bad result on something that it’s bad luck. Perhaps we say this out of compassion, as a way to alleviate any shame. And sometimes it’s totally fair: If someone got into a random accident that leads to an injury, that is, indeed, bad luck. It was truly out of their control. But this isn’t always the case.
Luck is a force that dictates coincidences and circumstances beyond our control. But if you have worked toward something, or have neglected yourself or your work, your “luck” is dependent on those things more than any random force.
Was it luck—or intuition?
Intuition is on the other end of the spectrum from luck entirely. If someone is intuitive, it implies that they are connected to themselves and the energy around them. They can listen to it, heed it, and use it to make their lives and the lives of others better. This is not luck. This is self-awareness and self-control.
Having intuition means you sensed something and acted on it, trusted it. Can you use your intuition to make choices that then turn out well? Of course! But was that random force that guided your intuition purely luck? Or weren’t you the one at the steering wheel all along?
How we should talk about luck moving forward.
What if, instead of saying that something was “lucky,” we acknowledge that luck is deeper than that? That it is, in fact, their destiny or karma? What if when someone gets a promotion, we said, “That’s your destiny. Bravo,” or, “Wonderful news. You followed your intuition and it led you here.”
This sort of response feels completely different. It validates the person’s self-awareness, trust, and faith in a new process, despite the risks.
Using your intuition implies going within to see. Luck is always an external force. The two can certainly combine, but let’s stop calling things that people worked hard for a “random stroke of luck.” Instead, let’s honor when we use our intuition wisely and show self-trust at a high level. Expanding the spectrum of how we see life’s events and giving credit where it’s due will help us all feel more seen, heard, and validated.