Photo Credit: y Gaer

As a species, most human beings work hard to get to where they want to be in their lives. From the valiant doctors all around the globe who risked life and limb to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic; the rags to riches CEO gracing the cover of Forbes Magazine, and everyone in between.

Which begs the question, if success is the direct result of hard work, how come the 1% remains, well, just 1%? George Monbiot famously remarked: “If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” I am sure that’s true of billions of people across the planet.

Which leads me to another point of inquiry. What’s the role of risk in your life? How much of your success in life would you say was out of sheer luck?

As you ponder on that, here’s an excerpt from Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money:

“Luck and risk are siblings. They are both the reality that every outcome in life is guided by forces other than individual effort. They are so similar that you can’t believe in one without equally respecting the other. They both happen because the world is too complex to allow 100% of your actions to dictate 100% of your outcome.”

16 thoughts on “WHAT THE LUCK?

  1. Interesting question, AB! I’m not sure how much of my success comes from hard work, as much as I would like to believe that’s true. I have had a lot of help along the way, and have never had any opportunities happen solely as the result of help, risk or effort. This always seems to be a combination of at least two of those. The best opportunities though, have come from risk taking, after putting in the effort of homework first. As for the 1%, well, these are people that every days situations never seem to apply to, so I don’t know.

  2. I love the quote. We live in a stochastic world where nothing beyond what we do is certain. The odds may favor a certain result from what we do, but we can never know if that’s what we’ll get.

  3. If you are blessed with a higher IQ, or some other measurement of how well your brain analyzes things, then is that luck? Instinct is how we first learn, and if you are “smarter” on the instinctive level then you are permitted to trust that instinct such that people may say you are lucky in the outcomes you achieve. Also, is money the true measurement of success in life?

    1. Good point.

      One, no. I don’t think money is the only measure of success in life.

      Two, on what other parameters do you measure success in your life, Davee?

  4. Financial success is definitely not solely the product of hard work. Sometimes it is, but most times it is the result of connections, resources and timing. The 1% is filled with very few “successful” people, and a great deal of lucky people, in my humble opinion. I don’t consider inheriting fortune “success”. With that inheritance, typically connections and resources are there as well, and with a large enough fortune, you can manipulate timing in your favor a bit.

    To piggy back on Davee’s question, “success” is achieving a desired outcome. Seeing as there are far more poor people on the planet than rich, financial success is just desired by more people than the other possible measures of success.

  5. Great post, awesome title and good questions, Billy! I know I’ve benefitted from a lot of luck in life and that’s motivated me to work hard because it makes me feel as if my efforts will get me somewhere.

    As to risk – I see that in many ways as vulnerability. The vulnerability to expose myself by trying and extending myself and risking failure. And that vulnerability I’d say is intimately connected to success.

  6. Interesting post and comments.
    It’s quite sad that success is frequently messaged by wealth; especially during current global crises and financial depression. Although I don’t consider myself risk adverse, rearing a family did make me careful resulting in a toning down of potential adventures.
    I consider myself ‘lucky’ not to have been ‘unlucky’ in life – many people suffer from such rotten luck – as well as having good health, help and support from family and friends. Without these life would have been hard. With them I was able to learn, work and achieve some of my dreams.

  7. I am not so interested in wealth, but I am interested in the siblings “Luck” and “Risk”. I have worked hard to get to know what matters to me as my core values. I don’t always know where I want to go next, but knowing myself really well means that when I am a presented with opportunities or challenges it is easier for me to quickly jump on the track, or grab the passing opportunity, that best fits with my happiness and my work/life balance, my family and everything else. For me this is a key to luck and risk. It is easier to take a risk if you know what you are risking, and what you might gain. Luck can be easily missed if we hesitate, so knowing ahead of time what is actually a good opportunity, and what we can let pass by is a huge part of how luck has influenced my life. Just some thoughts that your post sparked. Thanks!

  8. The risks I have taken and the unconventional choices I have made have certainly not made me wealthy, but they have given me a rich and fulfilling life. Very few regrets! 🙂 I found this post to be very intriguing, AB, and I enjoyed the quote. <3

  9. I consider myself lucky because I have two arms, two legs, and all the other parts of my body are there where they are supposed to be. And they function quite well. On the other hand all what I achieved in my life was thanks to my determination, perseverance and willingness to accomplish. And I never hesitated to grasp what life had offered me. But maybe is this the meaning of being lucky?

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