On Finding Luck (and Clovers)

 Some of my four and five leaf clover collection. 

Some of my four and five leaf clover collection. 

Growing up, my mom kept a small, ornate silver box in our home library. It was one of the few antiques that wasn't locked up and that we were allowed to investigate. Inside were 2 four leaf clovers. For a few days after that discovery, instead of running outside to play in the woods, I would search our lawn for four leaf clovers - never finding any. I was just unlucky, I figured, and as each expedition resulted in failure, I searched less and less. 

In 2012, I was absent-mindedly examining the ground when I saw an actual four leaf clover. "This is it", I thought as I carefully picked it and examined it to make sure it was real, "I've finally found one! I'll probably never find another!" 

But, really, it was just the beginning of some sort of weird magical thinking loop. Find four leaf clover = feel lucky. Find more four leaf clovers = luck increases. Find dozens of them = I HAVE BECOME SO LUCKY THAT I CAN BASICALLY CONJURE THESE THINGS FROM THE EARTH. But that sort of confirmation bias would make me sound a little crazy, so when people would ask, I would simply say, "luck". Realistically, though, successful clover hunting requires one special skill: pattern recognition.

In clover hunting, the first thing to do is to always be looking - even if you are not immediately successful. Giving up isn't going to find you any clovers - right? But aside from that very boring, obvious advice, the critical part is looking for patterns - specifically, an variation in the natural carpet of clovers. What should jump out isn't exactly the clover itself, but the sudden interruption of all the other clovers doing their thing. Once you've found one, finding another nearby is much more likely as well. To summarize another finder on the subject - where you find one mutation, you are likely to find more

I've probably found a hundred or so clovers in the past 3 years - even finding 31 in a single day - but there are still times when I'm forced to give up the hunt empty-handed. So if finding a lucky clover is on your to do list, keep trying - you're luckier than you think.