Generating “Luck”, preparing for the next level

Steven Barnes
4 min readJun 11, 2024


The MAGIC formula produces “luck” when you get above a “5” in each category. The TAGR pattern produces “luck” up around the “Brain” and “Sixth Sense” levels: 12 and 13. So what is the implication (if accurate?)

“Luck” then is a matter of being aligned in a specific way that allows you to harmonize with the internal and external worlds, such that you are prepared for opportunities, recognize them, and are capable of embracing them. An opportunity you are NOT prepared for is useless. An unrecognized opportunity is useless. And an opportunity that you do not embrace is useless.

To this end, I’d think you’d want to define “prepared for” to include the ability to recognize and embrace them. To be EMOTIONALLY as well as mentally and physically ready. And if you want to progress in life? ALWAYS be preparing yourself for the NEXT level of your job or career. Always be researching and preparing.

And build this into your perfect daily schedule, right? So that means that your “perfect daily schedule” has to include research and study time. Has to SPECIFICALLY be designed to increase your energy, heal your emotions, and improve your PEOPLE skills. Every day, or every week (at the LEAST) you need to have time blocked out on your calendar for these things.

Just as a martial artist punches THROUGH the board, aims at the BACK of the opponent’s head, accelerating through the face (ouch!) you need the same attitude about work and learning. You need to handle today in a way that prepares you for tomorrow.


Yesterday I had lunch with Larry Niven. I commented that working with him and Jerry was like being thrown into the black belt class. I got the SHIT pounded out of me, literally drove home every day crying. But I knew that if I could survive in that space, I would have to “vibrate to their frequency” like a tuning fork, and in the process would learn things no school in the world could teach me. Another analogy is that they were like strolling Great Danes, and I was like a puppy sprinting around their legs desperately trying to keep up with them AND seem kinda “casual” at the same time.

And eventually, I grew up. Never had THEIR length of leg, but then Larry and Jerry weren’t brilliant in the same ways…there was overlap, but each was (and is) unique. I’d say Jerry had a normal human brain with a rocket strapped to it. Larry’s brain is augmented by a teleportation device. It is STRANGE, in some really wonderful ways.

I didn’t have to be what THEY were. I had to figure out what I am, and how I could fit healthfully into a partnership with these giants.

When you study the people better than you, advanced from you, you don’t have to be what THEY are. You have to be who YOU are. Or to put it another way: you have to do what they did, which was to refine their uniqueness and amplify their strengths. I could never move the way Steve Muhammad moves, but I had to TRY to move that way, up to the brown belt level…and then seek a way to move and think and feel at similar levels of efficiency and effectiveness for MY life path, as he did for his.

And THAT I could do, and have done. He and Larry will always, and I mean ALWAYS, be ahead of me on their paths. But I can create my own path, and test myself by seeing how I function when I step onto theirs. Can I keep up? At least, can I flow with them to their satisfaction? Yes? Then I’m pretty safe to continue on my own way. Ultimately, I have to find the place inside myself that produces the clarity and insight. Steve did, finding the aspects of Ed Parker’s Kenpo that he modified to his own use. Larry did, in finding the aspects of Fred Pohl or Robert Heinlein or Arthur Clarke that appealed to him…but creating his own way.

I used my time with them to understand excellence. And could only understand it by “emptying my cup” and following their directions until they approved. At which point I could begin to find my own way.

But the point was that “definite chief aim” of “1% increase in congruence and amplitude of body, mind and spirit” that I chose as a goal forty years ago. It was about mastery in all three arenas of my life, which I hypothesized would be IMPOSSIBLE (or highly unlikely) to achieve if my reality map was inaccurate. Could I be wrong? Sure, but it it genuinely my epistemology: to the basic principles work in all three arenas? Yes? Then double down. Worst case scenario is that I’m wrong…but healthy, loved, and successful. Oh, well…darn.

And constantly preparing myself for the next level, by solving the problems on THIS level with optimal integrity. Constantly looking for opportunities, making connections, studying the steps necessary to grow, whether they are the Hero’s Journey, MAGIC formula, HP6, Musashi’s principles, Think and Grow Rich, or whatever. Study, study study. EVERY DAY AN EXPERIMENT. Notice the results. If they match the hypothesis, double down…and PUBLISH (which is of course what I’m doing here every day.) until I am comfortable believing those hypothesis have evolved and solidified into theories.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” And my goal is constant growth and balance in my three arenas. Escaping suffering, embracing joy, giving service. (Catch the Three Centers and Three Gates there? See why they’re “baked into” the MAGIC formula?)

Anyway…this all starts with the Five Minute Miracle, the breathing. Take at least five sixty-second diaphragmatic breathing breaks during the day, and you and I have a common language to discuss extraordinary things. If you can’t find the internal leverage to do that…you’ll need to find a different teacher. And that’s fine. I searched a bunch before I found what I needed.

And I hope you’ll find what you need to live a glorious life, one free of suffering, filled with joy, and capable of great service to your tribe.





Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.