Why Me? (part 1)

As adults, many of us ask Why me? from time to time, especially when things go badly or result from circumstances beyond our control. “Why has the universe, or fate, chosen to pick on me?” “Why has it singled me out?” … for failure, or for an unwelcome challenge, or to teach a costly lesson at the worst possible moment?

As adults, we can usually step back from asking Why me? and look at the logical progression of cause and effect. We often come to see that our problems are not caused by some supernatural force but by real circumstances, some of which may have been beyond or control, others of which may have been the result of actions we took or didn’t take.

For children, however, for whom so much is often beyond their control, the question Why me? might occur with greater frequency.

That was most definitely my experience in childhood.

Imagine moving from surroundings you are only beginning to explore and understand to a whole new place that’s not across town or even across the country, but across an ocean, a third of the way around the world. At age seven, that’s exactly what happened to me. My parents migrated from South Africa to Canada.

Not long afterward, I discovered how mean children can be.

As a January baby who had also skipped a grade when in South Africa, I was the youngest in my new classroom. I was also the smallest boy in my class, with a foreign accent to boot. My well-intentioned parents tried to assure me that my transition to a new school would go smoothly, but the steps they took had the opposite effect. They urged me to be a model student, and so I raised my hand for everything, not realizing how much more of a target that made me. And at a time when everybody was wearing jeans and t-shirts to school, they dressed me in corduroys and collared shirts.

But even if I’d been the class clown or dressed like everyone else, there’d have been no getting past my foreign accent. In the eyes of my peers, I “talked funny.” I was the classic “other” that psychologists talk about, and that made it easy for my peers to marginalize and bully me.

On many afternoons, I had to walk home through a community park. Going around the park was not really an option, but even if it were, my bullies would have followed. I received the same beating each day at three-thirty in Lawson Park.

Why me?

I didn’t understand why my luck had turned out as it had, but I really wanted to make sense of my experience. My gift was intellect, and I was paying the same price “nerds” have paid for generations. I would never be in with the “in crowd,” and so I focused instead on developing a strong mind and developing what would later be called a Luck Mindset.

I became a strategic thinker at an age where most kids don’t have to do so. To sharpen my mind in high school, I joined the debate team and the drama club. I didn’t get any girls and was still harassed mercilessly right through secondary school. I was certainly no direct threat to anyone, but I had let myself become an easy target and had done nothing to change my situation.

Why me? gradually transformed into This is me, along with a quiet determination to apply my intellect to understanding human nature in general—and specifically to consistently beating odds that seemed stacked against me. I now look back on that experience as my very first attempt to “create” my own luck. From that time forward, I essentially became my own guinea pig and worked on learning, iterating, and refining my own behaviors and thoughts. I created my own laboratory for life, and the habits I subsequently developed have since led me to be able to live a life beyond my wildest dreams. This book is the product of that research and experience and resulting Formula For Luck. I learned to be lucky, and I’m happy now to share the products of my experience and my research with you.

(cont’d in Part 2)…

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