Why are some of your employees luckier than others?  Why do some people consistently find solutions to problems, while others just find problems?  Why are some people engaging and fun to work with – moving from success to success – while similarly qualified people seem overwhelmed with problems, and are always seem to be teetering on the edge of defeat?

Anthony Tjan wrote a post for the Harvard Business Review blog on “Why Some People Have All the Luck.”  He neatly ties together 3 attributes that “lucky” people often have:

The basic equation of developing the right lucky attitude … is quite simple. It starts with having the humility to be self- aware, followed by the intellectual curiosity to ask the right questions, and concluding with the belief and courage that something better is always possible (optimism).

Take a minute and go read the full post.  I’m convinced he’s right on the money with this.  I have long held a deep appreciation for the 3 attributes Tjan mentions, but I never really thought about how powerful they are in combination. In previous posts about what attributes to look for in an interview, I’ve often mentioned curiosity and having the courage to take risks.  I’m also a firm believer in resilience – humbly accepting your role in a failure, and then having enough optimism to get back in the game.

If you find it hard to accept “being lucky” as a hiring requirement, then consider this:  Seth Godin recently observed that fewer and fewer people will be successful at work simply by working hard – “more people now have jobs that require them to confront the risk of appearing stupid on a regular basis.”   So what attributes would help you thrive in a work environment that requires you to risk occasionally appearing stupid?  I would suggest you are looking for humility, curiosity and optimism – the exact same attributes that lead to a lucky attitude.

So whether you say you are hiring people who are lucky, or say you are hiring people who can risk appearing stupid – you are still looking for the same three traits.

If you would like to spend less time on the irrelevant, superficial aspects of interviewing, and more time understanding the deeper elements of what will make someone successful, download our Employer Guide to Interviewing.