Don’t Rely on Luck or Hard Work

Are ultra-successful people, you know, the one-percenters—are they simply the best at what they do, or did they have an extraordinary encounter with luck? How much talent does one need to break through his or her industry and become a household name? What role does luck play in the grand scheme of high-level success?

Before moving full steam ahead, let’s establish a working definition of success (material and financial). Success is the status of having achieved and accomplished an aim or objective at a level where one is widely recognized as an influencer and expert in his or her industry.

Per this definition of success, making “the” list would be folks like J.K.Rowling, George R.R Martin, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Shonda Rhimes, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Usain Bolt, Steve Jobs, Angela Merkel, Larry Page, and Richard Branson.

Are those individuals better skilled, more capable, harder working, or luckier than the rest of us?

In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the author makes the case that the following factors lie behind the success of the best people in their fields: (1) a series of random events: (2) rare opportunities; and (3) external factors that are out of one’s control, e.g., a person’s birthplace and cultural upbringing, birth year, parents, and genetic predispositions.

In his book, Zero to One, Peter Thiel distills that enormous success is tied to the observance and practice of what he calls First Principles Thinking, i.e., creating breakthrough products that defy conventional wisdom; identifying unique ways of building customer value; and the application of new technology and interaction design.

I would argue that we can choose to make luck and hard work loyal companions. On the one hand, hard work is like a pickax; once you put it down, it loses its instrumental value. On the other hand, luck is beholden only to those who live in a continual state of preparedness.

Success of the five-star variety requires the religious exercitation of repetitive and focused action mingled with undaunted risk-taking.

Do you agree/disagree? What are your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Don’t Rely on Luck or Hard Work

  1. Hi, Having worked as secretary for both the Adult’s and Children’s Editors at Kaye & Ward Ld., an old-established publishing company in the City of London in the 1970s, I would like to point out the following.(Appreciating that technology has intervened!) We had three m/s ‘piles’: Possibles, Up for Further Discussion and Hopeless (or similar…) The third category was quickly rejected, the middle section was contacted and given hope, and the publishable replied to and conditions and details explained. This was, apparently, quite a popular procedure with many publishers then, and – in my ‘umble opinion – LUCK did play a part. I recall receiving two,plaudible, factual mountaineering adventure tales on two particular days. The first was quickly accepted, and similarly, two amusing stories arrived about elephants and the outcome was the same. WHO YOU KNOW ALSO HELPS! Sometimes…FACT. One particular author who had a mutual friend of a director, wrote a book which ‘bombed’ and it was, later,’ rermaindered’ – which involves paying back monies received… All the above said, the art of good writing is hard work. I’m a modest writer, so know of what I speak. Many excellent writers have been rejected countless times, and it is increasingly difficult to find mainstream publishers. Not all of us are technically minded…Hey ho. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

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