Is Winning In Business Luck or Hard Work?


In his “must read” article about learning from successful people, James Altucher; who appears to be heavily into chess, quoted something commonly said in chess: “it’s funny how always the best players seem to be lucky.” He intimated that is more than luck and I agree. Natural chess talent my get you to expert or maybe even a low level Master if you play enough but without purposeful study and practice it is unlikely you can go higher. The key here is if you play enough you can achieve a high ranking and to go beyond natural skills you must also study. There is only one luck element I see in the super talented and that is their genetic makeup which they could not control. Most of the time this is not luck either as natural attraction brings the right gene pools together.

In his book Outlier Malcolm Gladwell makes a very strong argument that super talented people really have many hours of experience before their talent starts peaking. There is no luck in it. Sure there may cases where a producer finds a star or some similar situation, but if the found talent is not ready no matter how great their outward appearance is, they will not make it. There many one hit wonders out there because they were not exactly ready.

If you define luck as obtaining a set of skills and/or attributes that make you great at something, then that is a definition consistent with my point. It is the compilation of your life’s experience that makes you stand out. It is your hard working and as Mr. Altucher puts it “push” then you can create your own “luck”. Again, there are many external factors that may seem like luck because they affect people just like if it was a magic or luck by catapulting them to the top. However, except in rare cases, ultimately the “luck” only gives the opportunity, if the person is not ready to receive the opportunity, they may either not see it or be able to capitalize on it. For example in The Phantom of the Opera and many similar stories, the star got her break because the main person was unable to perform. If she was not ready for it by having built her talent to the right level she would never have been “found”.

A perfect example of how talent can catapult you to the top, yet lack of talent bring back down to zero or below zero are many star athletes and lotto winners. The start athletes got their earnings from hard work with a very rare skill that had a hard expiration date. This skill had nothing to do with success outside that natural skill so once it ended it left them with a great deal of money and no financial sense so they lost it all really quick. Michel Jackson was another good example of this phenomenon and like him there are many more. Lotto winners are usually common folks with regular jobs that usually live paycheck to paycheck and when their wealth comes many times the lose it because they are not skilled enough to handle it. Luck is a malevolent genie unless you are ready to accept its gift.

It is a truism that we make our own luck. However, this “luck” we create comes at a great cost, it takes great persistence and push to get to the point where like magic luck seems to come and make us successful. Even when external processes outside our control bring us “luck” with an opportunity that can lead to great success we must be ready to accept it and capitalize on it or it will be lost. Luck is a compilation of our life’s experience and therefore we make it ourselves or are ready to accept it when it comes from outside our domain of control! Push luck!


We make our own luck through perseverance AND being ready to accept gifts from events out of our control Click to Tweet This

Luck is a malevolent genie who rewards only those prepared to accept its costly gifts Click to Tweet This

Even the most accomplished may need help accepting good fortune plus continued persistence to keep their success Click to Tweet This

What we call luck is a series of skills and attributes we work hard at that bring us to “lucky” moments Click to Tweet This

“Luck” exacts a very heavy tax to give us its gift, there is no luck without hard effort Click to Tweet This

Even if outside events bring us “luck”, we must recognize and capitalize on it to keep the “luck” Click to Tweet This

Luck is a compilation of a lifetime of skills, attributes, and decisions which create our own success Click to Tweet This

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