Luck and Arena Razors

From Weekly I/O#42

Luck and Arena Razors: When choosing between two paths, choose the one with a larger luck surface area and/or the one that puts you in the arena.

Article: The Most Powerful Decision Making Razors

When deciding between two options, we can use some heuristics to simplify our decision-making process. The Luck Razor and the Arena Razor are some of my favorites.

When choosing between two paths, choose the one with a larger luck surface area. This means choosing the option that makes us more likely to "get lucky".

When we are stuck in some problems for a long time, it's harder to get lucky if we just sit and hope that luck will find us. Conversely, getting lucky is easier when we ask for help since someone may happen to be friendly and help us.

Similarly, when we try to learn something new, it's harder to get lucky if we just learn it all by ourselves and hope we can always get the right resources and direction. Conversely, it's easier for us to get lucky if we learn in public and someone more experienced might give helpful and timely suggestions.

By getting more chances at situations exposed to luck, we are more likely to get lucky.

This is also similar to what is mentioned in The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. There are four levels of luck:

  1. Hope luck finds you.
  2. Hustle until you stumble into it.
  3. Prepare the mind and be sensitive to chances others miss.
  4. Become the best at what you do. Refine what you do until this is true. Opportunity will seek you out. Luck becomes your destiny.

The other heuristic when choosing between two paths is to pick the one that puts us in the arena. Putting ourselves out there is scary and lonely, but it's where growth happens.

It also echos the Luck Razor. We increase our luck surface area by putting us out there in the arena. It's easy to throw rocks from the sidelines. But once in the arena, we don't have to take words from people too seriously on the sidelines since they don't have skin in the game.

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