My wife’s ability to secure prime parking spots is extremely annoying.
She will land a great spot no matter how busy the area where she is parking and will smugly proclaim: “I’m so lucky!”
She can drive to within a minutes’ walk of her chosen destination and almost always find a plumb spot. I seldom do.
I can be in a different vehicle, immediately in front or behind hers, and she will secure the perfect spot, while I will find myself relegated to the far north-east corner of the same parking area and arrive out our meeting aggrieved by the fact that she always catches the breaks in the parking lottery.
The truth is that she is no luckier than I am, just smarter, more determined and full of self-belief about achieving her goal.
And, as psychologist Angela Duckworth explained in her ground breaking Ted Talk about grit and building resilience in children; she approaches the problem differently to the way I do.
She believes she will get the spot and plans how it will happen. She enters the area where she wants to park with the expectation that by patiently observing the habits of others as they traverse the ant-farm-like parking hell that is the busy high street or the mall parking lot, she will see a likely parking opportunity materialise. She is not only patient and strategic in her approach, but has a steely determination to achieve her goal.
I, on the other hand, look for gaps between the cars, of which there are seldom any, and will quickly cut my losses and head off to a more remote area to find a spot.
Turns out, in parking, as in life, anticipating change is a far more effective strategy than reacting to it once it has occurred.
She takes the approach of retired Canadian ice-hockey star Wayne Gretzky who explained his uncanny ability to outsmart his opponents’ play: “I skate where the puck is going to be.”
My wife subconsciously is able to study the demeanour, speed and trajectory of those walking toward their vehicle and anticipates whether they will speedily vacate a prime spot or not. Once she has assessed the most likely candidate, she calmly manoeuvres into position to fill the spot they will invariably create.
It’s not luck, it’s strategic. And it works most of the time. She makes her own luck and that is a great way to start the day.
That is true of all of the successful people I study. They approach and dissect problems differently to most and are always on the lookout for opportunities where most of their rivals see only obstructions and difficulties.
By anticipating opportunity rather than waiting for it to become obvious, they have a head start on their rivals and will appear lucky, when in fact, it was their plan all along!