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Luck surface

The attack surface of a software environment is the sum of the different points (or “attack vectors”) where an unauthorized user (the “attacker”) can try to enter data to or extract data from an environment.

Keeping the attack surface as small as possible is a basic security measure.

Wikipedia – Attack Surface

The Luck Surface is the sum of different points of contact by which people and events favourable to your project can come into contact with it. Keeping the luck surface as large as possible is a key tool in maximising a project’s chances of success.


Time and chance happen to us all, and are intimately related. Most things are totally beyond our control, but (taking the accident of your birth and the state of the world around you as a given) it’s helpful to act as if you make your own luck.

You can do this by:

  • Being excellent at what you do (so that people notice and talk about it, increasing the chances that the right people will notice you and talk about you)
  • Being prolific (so that there’s a lot of what you do – e.g. more points of contact and a greater network effect between different parts of your work)
  • Being generous with what you do (so that people are more likely to be return your generosity)
  • Sharing about what you do (but remember The Mona Lisa Principle)
  • Collaborating with others, increasing your odds of hitting scenius
  • Being persistent: stick around long enough and some kind of lucky thing is bound to happen eventually. Your competition will melt away: you could become a 200m World Champion runner in 55 seconds, or have a your first art exhibition featured in the national news 30 years after you retire. Staying in the water long enough gives you the chance to learn to read the waves, and to get in the right place at the right time for the next one.

See also:

Making your own waves
Siddhartha at the beach (Lessons from surfing #6)

Boardroom: Lessons from Surfing (4) – Tao, Timing, Vectors
Buses. Waves. Bicycles.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...