How to Increase Your Luck Surface Area (Ultimate Guide)

While there are many things in life that we don’t have much control over—including luck—there are strategies we can use to increase our potential for good luck and good opportunities. Practical, actionable things you can do.

Now, let me set the stage for you.

Imagine yourself on a small, one-person fishing boat in the middle of the ocean. You have a net for catching the fish. You’re not alone, there are plenty of other people with their own boats, all trying to catch their own fish.

Your goal is to catch as many fish as you can. Fish are good. You can eat them, sell them, and they just generally make your life better. Also, you enjoy the process of catching them, despite it being hard work and often a challenge.

There are three main ways to maximize your chances of catching fish.

  1. Increase the size of your net.
  2. Position yourself better. Sail to an area with more fish.
  3. Persist and stay out for longer periods of time.

This is a useful analogy for luck. Some people get a good starting point in life. They have a large net and happen to be in a location with a lot of fish. They start in a lucky position. Others start with a small net and in a poor location—one could argue they start in a less lucky position. That is something that you and I can’t control. We don’t choose our parents, where we’re born, or aspects of our genetics.

But we can increase the size of our net. We can make ourselves a bigger target for luck.

We can figure out ways to position ourselves better, where more luck and opportunity flow.

And we can build grit and perseverance to stay out for longer than others. Staying power.

We can view this as a formula. L = SA x P x SP.

So let’s look at how to do these three things, in detail: increasing our surface area, improving position, and staying in the game.

Increasing surface area of luck

You want to increase the size of your net. The bigger your net, the more fish you catch.

In the world, there’s luck/good chance flowing all around you. Good (and bad) things happen each day. Obviously you want to have good things happen to you, but how do you do that?

One approach might be to specifically seek out luck. Try to plan and strategize your way towards it. This is a difficult thing to do for many reasons, largely because:

  • You don’t always know what it is you want, and if you achieve what you think is luck but it turns out to be something you dread, then that’s not fun. For example, you chase the wrong career out of a desire for status or prestige. You get into it, thinking your lucky, only to be miserable.
  • You might shut yourself off from real luck because you’re experiencing tunnel vision toward your goal.
  • Life doesn’t work this way for 99% of people. Most of us operate blind, whether we realize it or not. Luck isn’t really visible.

A better approach is to make yourself a bigger target for luck. To increase your surface area for luck. This way, the opportunities that are constantly flowing in the world are more likely to hit you.

Fundamentally, the person with a larger luck surface area is the person who has stronger, deeper, and wider Networks—with significant Influence in those networks.

Networks cannot be understated. Your life is driven by the effects of them, whether it’s the family you’re born into, the college you go to, the career you have, the person you marry or spend time with. It drives a huge amount of your behaviour.

As James Currier writes in Your Life is Driven By Network Effects:

“…the networks of human connections in your life create a force that guides you down a path not always fully of your intention, through the mechanism of 100s of small interactions.

Further, this “network force” compounds over time. The longer your relationships, cliques, and communities persist, the more they shape your destiny.

Now, as I mentioned, we can’t choose a lot of our networks. They are assigned to us. We don’t get to choose the size of our net and our fishing block.

But we can build new networks—and benefit from the effects of them—as we move through life. And we want to be a large node in the network, because the bigger the node, the more opportunity and luck flows to it. As Currier writes in the article:

Most things that happen in society are multi-turn and repetitive. These are called preferential attachment processes which happen when something (such as money, status, fame, punishment) is distributed based on how much is already possessed. Most social processes are preferential attachment. For example, if two Founders each tweet out the same great idea at the same time, the one with more status will be given credit for the idea.

What’s fascinating is that this is because of math. Nodes that are “ahead” get picked more often by the other nodes because they are ahead and thus offer the nodes choosing them less friction and more benefit. When this gets repeated many times, it systematically directs more resources to the nodes that already have relatively more.

So, how do we actually increase our influence and benefit from network effects?

Well, we have to consider that there are multiple networks. Aside from the immediate ones like family and friends, we have:

  1. IRL networks: people who you meet with, in-person, on a regular or semi-regular basis
  2. Virtual P2P networks: people who you meet or communicate with virtually on a regular or semi-regular basis
  3. One-to-many: people who you send communication to—like if you have a YouTube audience.

Personally, I’m not a believer in networking for the sake of networking. I just think there are better ways to go about it. If you’re trying to “connect” with others, without actually doing interesting stuff and adding value somehow, then it’s hard to build any influence.

Instead, you want to Do & Tell.

Doing and telling

From the article How to increase your luck surface area, Jason Roberts writes:

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered in recent years it’s this. The amount of serendipity that will occur in your life, your Luck Surface Area, is directly proportional to the degree to which you do something you’re passionate about combined with the total number of people to whom this is effectively communicated.

He puts this into a simple equation: L = D * T, where L is luck, D is doing and T is telling.

Doing & telling is the highest leverage thing you can do to increase luck surface area and benefit from network effects, because it develops all three networks at once, unlike less effective strategies such as going to in-person networking events which don’t let you broadcast one-to-many.

An example: my YouTube channel. I’m passionate about human performance, working and thinking better, so I started making content on those topics.

People liked it and subscribed to the channel, which built a one-to-many network in which I was a large node.

Some of those people reached out to me directly, through email or twitter. Some of them paid me for consulting, others just sent a message. A selection of these people I communicate with regularly. That’s the virtual P2P network.

And some of them I’ve met in person. The IRL network.

Simply by doing and telling, I’ve hit all three networks and increased influence in them.

Three strategies for doing & telling:

Start with volume

Assuming you’re trying to increase your luck surface area in the context of your career or professional life, then volume is an overpowered strategy. This applies especially if you’re starting out.

Perhaps you want to be a writer, or you want to grow a YouTube channel, or a business. You must do a large volume of work. This is the doing part. And there’s no way around it.

There are multiple reasons why luck increases with volume of doing:

  1. Your skill increases rapidly with volume (in a way that it can’t through a focus purely on quality). Improved skill results in better work. And assuming that work reaches people through the telling part, increases your luck surface area. Skill is also something you carry with you throughout life. It’s an increase in the size of your net, even if you’re not fishing right now.
  2. As you do volume, you get signal and data from the world. Maybe you launch multiple products in your business and one does surprisingly well. That’s good data. You’ve learned something. You double down and launch a similar product. Your luck surface area increases with this insight and data that can only be gained through volume.
  3. Power laws apply. If you’re putting things out into the world, whether it’s content or products, then what you’ll find is that one piece of content or one product will outperform all the others by 10x. I mean, go to my channel and sort by most popular. You’ll see that the most popular video has 10 times more views than the next one. That’s power laws in action. It’s hard to strategize your way towards power laws, because there’s so much luck involved.

For more on the volume piece, check out my video: quality over quantity is poor advice. here’s a better system.

Work in public, post content.

Even if you’re doing something that’s more “offline” than online, documenting it in public—on the internet—is one of the best things you can do to increase luck surface area. You want to tell your story, you want to benefit from the network and influence that can be gained by doing so.

A good example of this is Nick Huber. He’s a self-storage entrepreneur who started posting on Twitter regularly a few years ago, sharing behind-the-scenes stories of deals and business moves. He blew up on Twitter, gained an immense amount of influence, and everything went exponential from there.

Yes, it can be hard work to do this. You want to figure out how you can do it sustainably. But it opens up a whole new world of leverage and asymmetry that’s not really available otherwise. It increases your luck surface area significantly.

10x Projects

With volume and content handled, it’s time to start thinking about leverage. Here’s the question:

“What’s the one thing I can work on that has the potential to increase my luck surface area more than anything else?”

A good example of this is writing a book vs. writing articles on a blog. While authorship is undoubtedly hard and there are no guarantees, there’s a significant difference between the influence an author has compared a blogger. People remember books, but rarely remember articles or blog posts (or even YouTube videos for that matter).

James Clear had a large following through his blog and newsletter, but it blew up after he spent three years working on his 10x Project: Atomic Habits.

Eric Jorgenson had reasonable following on Twitter, but also 10x’d his influence after publishing The Almanack of Naval Ravikant—which I believe has now been read by over 5 million people. Now he’s the CEO of Scribe Media.

You might not be a writer or content creator, but if you’ve been in the game and working on your craft for a while, then there’s likely a 10x project you could do that has the potential to change your life.

This is a note to self, because I haven’t written my book yet.

Improving Your Position

Aside from increasing luck surface area, you can also improve the position you’re in. Luck flows more freely in some places than others.

Combine a large surface area with good positioning, and you increase your luck significantly.

Here are a few ways to improve your position.

Change Environment

One of the biggest actions you can take to increase your luck surface area is moving to a new location. This depends entirely on your goals and what you want to do with your life. But I’m going to assume most people watching this want to get ahead some way in their career or business.

There’s no doubt that you can be extremely successful living anywhere. The internet has made that possible. However, that doesn’t mean that physical location is unimportant. Real-world interactions matter. It’s hard to replicate the spontaneity that exists when you live in bigger city.

There’s a reason why cities are cities, and there’s a reason why despite the internet changing everything—ambitious people still congregate in specific locations.

But what if you can’t simply get up and move to a new city? Maybe you don’t have the resources, or maybe you simply don’t want to. You live near family. There are other reasons for staying where you are. And there are more important things in life than pursuing professional opportunities to the maximum.

You can increase your luck surface area virtually too.

  • Join the right communities and contribute
  • Publish to the digital public square – make your voice be heard
  • Connect with people. Pay for their time if necessary.

Act with agency

Improving your position happens through taking action in the world and navigating it. Not by sitting around waiting.

The high agency person constantly improves their position. That doesn’t mean they’re always moving to new cities or changing their environment, but it does mean they’re constantly on the lookout for opportunities and taking action to seize the opportunities that make sense to them.

High agency people are positioned well. They are luckier than other people because of how they view the world. As George Mack writes:

High Agency is a sense that the story given to you by other people about what you can/cannot do is just that – a story. And that you have control over the story. High Agency person looks to bend reality to their will. They either find a way, or they make a way.

When you act with agency:

  • You see opportunities where others don’t. You see possibilities rather than roadblocks. Your life is luckier and more expansive as a result.
  • You can add more value to others.
  • You become someone of influence. Other people see you as high agency and the opportunity in the network flows to you. Partly because people know that you’ll do something with the opportunity, as this quote from Strangest Loop in the article You Need to be Agencymaxxing reads:
    • “When you’re agencymaxxing, others become more interested in helping you because you’re a good investment. You, the agencymaxxer, apply a multiplier to others’ help so that their help goes further than if they applied that help to someone who wastes it by not helping themself. People like when their help makes a meaningful difference and they don’t like when their help goes to waste”
  • You consistently turn bad situations into good ones—perhaps one of the most powerful luck-generating skills.

Cate Hall has some great advice on becoming more agentic in her essay How to be More Agentic:

  • Court rejection. Ask for things. Ask for things that feel unreasonable. If you’re only asking for things you get, you’re not aiming high enough.
  • Seek real feedback. “If you aren’t trying to get real feedback from people who know you, you’re cooking without tasting. This is, like, the lowest hanging fruit for self-improvement, but few people really try to pick it.”
  • Assume everything is learnable. “Most subject matter is learnable, even stuff that seems really hard. But beyond that, many (most?) traits that people treat as fixed are actually quite malleable if you (1) believe they are and (2) put the same kind of work into learning them as you would anything else.”
  • Learn to love the moat of low status.
  • Don’t work too hard. Burnout is the ultimate agency-killer.

The luck razor

This is a simple decision-making razor that will help increase your luck.

When you’re choosing between two paths, two goals, two projects: choose the one that you feel has more potential for luck.

You can apply this razor to the big decisions: “Should I move to a new city and take this great job opportunity even though it’s a bit scary? Or should I stay where I am?”

And you can also apply it to the smaller decisions that lead to lucky outcomes:

“Should I stay in and watch Netflix, or go to this cocktail party?”

I like to apply it when thinking about which projects and goals to work on. For example, one of my decisions to double-down on YouTube this year was that I felt it was a “higher luck bet” than the alternative goals I was considering.

Staying power & persistence

Luck surface area and positioning mean nothing if you have no staying power.

Coming back to the fishing analogy. You’ve increased the size of your net. You’ve found a fishing spot that’s bountiful. But after 20 mins of being on the boat hoping that fish will enter the net, you get bored and quit. You tell yourself “there’s no point. It’s not working.”

You can actually see this happen in real life. Some people are born with massive nets and start in a great location, but they have low staying power. The boats with smaller nets in poorer locations outperform them.

So you need to develop staying power. There are three components to this:

  1. Endurance & long time horizon
  2. Curiosity
  3. Energy

Let’s look at each.

Endurance & long time horizon

I’ve put these together because they go hand-in-hand. It’s hard to really hold a long-time horizon without being someone of endurance, and it’s also hard to have endurance if you don’t have a long time horizon.

Resolve, persistence, tenacity, endurance. It matters an incredible deal if you want to increase your luck.

Again, if luck is largely a function of our influence in a network, which comes from the value we add through doing and telling—then we need to persist in the doing and telling. That takes a lot of time to do well.

Writing a book, or several books, requires disgusting levels of persistence and endurance. Same goes with making documentaries, building a business, or growing your career in the way you want. Anything exceptional requires persistence over long timeframes.

Unfortunately, most people give up before reaching the point where their efforts start to pay off. They might write ten articles on their blog, not realizing the eleventh would be the breakthrough. Or they might publish twenty videos on YouTube, unaware that the twenty-first would be a game-changer.

You must adopt a long time horizon. That doesn’t mean you blindly commit to one path in life with extreme tunnel vision that shuts you off from great opportunities, but rather that you commit to doing things that will compound over time.

So, how do you persist? How do you endure? There are multiple factors that contribute, but let’s look at two of them: curiosity and energy.


It’s extremely difficult to persist in doing work that you dislike.

Curiosity is one of the drivers of endurance, as Paul Graham says “interest will drive you to work harder than mere diligence ever could.”

You’ve likely experienced this. Hopefully you are experiencing this in your life right now.

When you work on something you’re intensely curious about, you don’t need productivity hacks. You don’t need to distract yourself with software apps. You want to do the work because it’s interesting. You want to learn more, grow, develop your skills, and explore the seemingly never-ending world that you’re spending your time in.

This doesn’t mean it’s sunshine and rainbows. Of course not. As I said in my video on grinding through the boring work, even the most passionate people still need to persist through periods of boredom and do what feels mundane. But curiosity and interest is still at the foundation. Your persistence feels purposeful.


Energy flows out of curiosity. The energetic person is the one who enjoys their work, finds meaning in it, and feels like they’re progressing.

But it also flows out of state. Yes, managing your physical and mental state increases your potential for luck.

If you’re burned out, exhausted, sleeping terribly, and generally lack energy—then your ability to endure will be impacted. You will feel less curious about what you’re doing. You’ll find it harder to act with agency.

Fixing the energy problem is beyond the scope of this video, but it’s worth taking a two-pronged approach: how can you do work—even if it’s a small amount each day—that you’re intensely interested in? This alone will positively impact your energy. And second, what’s the highest leverage thing you can do to improve your health and state? Perhaps it’s sleeping, or drinking less alcohol. Figure out what those two things are and then act on them.

Other Principles

Avoid tunnel vision

Tunnel vision reduces luck because you’re less likely to notice opportunities that you’re not looking for. You need to operate through life with determination and focus while remaining open to spontaneity. This is hard to do without falling into the trap of shiny object syndrome, but it’s a balance you must strike.

Luck compounds due to expectation

Luck compounds in an extremely powerful way. When you experience good luck, it calibrates your expectation. You expect it to continue. That expectation affects the way you operate in the world. You’re more positive and optimistic, which in turn enables you to spot opportunities.

Avoid increasing Risk Surface Area

The same way you can increase luck surface area to increase your chances of good things happening to you, lucky things, it also works in reverse. Bad things happen in life, a lot of them you cannot control no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you increase your good luck, bad things are still going to happen. But you want to avoid increasing your risk surface area where it’s stupid to do so. Sometimes you should increase it, because it exposes you to upside—luck—in an asymmetric way. But there are some things that just increase risk surface area without any particular upside other than maybe immediate gratification or some hedonistic pursuit.

A good example of increasing your risk surface area is texting while driving. It’s just like a very stupid thing to do yet people still do it. The asymmetry of that is like ridiculous right, it has a huge downside, in fact it has a fatal downside but the upside is like so minimal that it just makes zero sense to do. You can wait to text, you can pull over, you can call someone on hands-free, you know it’s just a silly thing. And this just needs to be said because a lot of people try to increase their luck and they don’t mitigate the downside, they don’t mitigate risks and that not a good way to live.

As Munger says, “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”.

Don’t just consider how you can increase your luck surface area, but also how you can avoid increasing your risk surface area. Don’t over leverage yourself in real estate or when you buy a house. Don’t go into debt if you can avoid it. Don’t work on things that are highly risky when you can’t afford to take on risk. And so on.

Bonus: Things You’re Allowed to Do

  • Pay for people’s time
  • Send cold emails/DMs
  • Host events – read Keith Ferrazi’s Never Eat Alone
  • Talk to your barista
  • Follow up with people, even if you think it’s annoying
  • Fly to meet people if it’s important and potentially life-changing
  • Just ask for things. As Milan Cvitkovic writes in his great article titled “Things You’re Allowed to do
    • In general, just ask for things, even if you’ve never heard someone ask for them
      • It’s okay if the things are crazy. You can always mollify afterward by saying “I know that’s a crazy thing to ask for, but I have a rule that I always ask.”

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