Residual Chance

I was recently reminded of the saying, “Luck is the residue of design.”  This quote* was the title of a lecture given in the 1950’s by Branch Rickey, former Major League Baseball executive. He was most famous for initiating the integration of major league sports by signing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1947.

I am a believer in this saying. How to put the concept to use is another question.

One can pretty easily design to have bad luck. For example: get drunk at a bar and drive home while speeding. High chance of bad luck finding you, in one of a myriad of ways.

Good luck is not quite so easy to run into. We don’t know in advance what juxtapositions will be useful to us, and it’s certainly not only high-minded, “good angel” decisions that allow for fortunate chance meetings or ideas. 

My current best  guess on how to design for good luck is to follow your own instincts. Make each decision your own, and make sure you are doing what you truly want to be doing, at every single moment over which you have control.

That way your residue trail will be something you can appreciate and be proud of.

*It seems the full title is actually “Luck is the Residue of Opportunity and Design,” which is a bit more obvious but less interesting.