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Illustrations by Michele McCammon

Most people think luck is something you casually stumble upon. But Tina Seelig, a professor in management science and engineering, says it is something you can create for yourself by identifying and developing opportunities. After two decades of research, Seelig shares three things you can do to increase your odds of good fortune in everyday life:

Take Small Risks.

Say hello to a stranger on the train. Try a new sport. Travel to a foreign country. Stepping out of your comfort zone opens doors. In her class, Seelig asks students to rate their comfort level with different types of risks, be they social, emotional or intellectual. Then she challenges students to push themselves toward the risks that feel most uncomfortable. 

Show Appreciation.

“When someone does something for you, they’re taking that time that they could be spending on themselves or someone else,” Seelig says. “And you need to acknowledge what they’re doing.” Being gracious, even when you’re turning down an offer of assistance, may bring more opportunities your way. 

Embrace Crazy Ideas.

Don’t dismiss a notion right away just because it seems impossible. “Ideas that seem the craziest often have a seed of something powerful, and if you take a few minutes to think about how it might work, you open yourself up to really interesting possibilities.”


Diana Aguilera is a staff writer at STANFORD.