How Luck Stops us Reaching our Potential

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Luck and serendipity are a funny thing; the harder you work the luckier you get. In recent years I have experienced growing sentiment that the most visible CEO’s, Sports Stars, Actor’s and Celebrities are merely in the position they occupy due to luck. Is this reality or a fallacy which has been accepted as fact in order to appease those unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary in order to achieve unprecedented success?

The reality is that luck plays a part in almost everyone’s ascent. A scout in the right place who witnesses a skill which suggests you’re a potential star or an audience member mentioning a young actor to a director friend who is then cast in a movie role. Luck is, of course, pertinent but it simplifies the truth in order to humanise the reason some succeed where others fail. It replaces the ability to improve with a cognitive dissonance which prevents you from improving. If every success can be attributed to luck why risk the possibility of hurt which would come from facing up to your weaknesses and accepting the fact you have to work incredibly hard to achieve anything of significance.

Luck is the reason attributed most to the people who achieve unprecedented success. They were so lucky to win that role in a film which changed their career or they were so lucky to get that promotion. I bet they didn’t feel lucky when they sacrificed the time they could be spending with family or friends to practice or work. Luck doesn’t see the hard work, commitment and practice it took to get that lucky break. Unless you have the intrinsic skill set required they would never have gotten lucky.

Luck ignores the hard work that is necessary to make things easy. We see Usain Bolt effortlessly breeze to a 100m sprint victory in the Olympics and assume that it is natural innate talent. He was born with it and he was lucky to win the genetic lottery. To suggest that is even remotely true belittles the importance of hard work. Could he have won Olympic gold without enduring years of suffering throughout the thousands of training sessions he participated in? Of course not.

Luck is juxtaposed to reality, it is the antithesis of accepting hard work as the route cause of success and manifests itself as an excuse for not trying. It is utilised to explain our own lack of perseverance, grit or determination in pursuing our own hopes and dreams. We see our peers flourishing in a new venture, thriving in a new job or becoming rich having started a company and lazily brandish them as lucky instead of being cognisant of the risk that was inherent in their decision to take a chance.

Psychologically, the reason we do this is because it dehumanises the success of other people. By apportioning their success to luck or a pre-natural innate talent we have elevated it to unattainable to the everyday man in the street. We are making ourselves feel better as a way of making the possible impossible in our minds. What physical reason is there to support every tennis player ever to pick up a racket not being able to hit a backhand like Roger Federer? I would argue the only thing is a lack of commitment to practice.

This stretches far beyond the sporting arena. It has never been easier or cheaper at any time in human history to start your own business. The only barriers to entry are your own willingness to participate. The internet has enabled globalisation on an unimaginable scale. I have access to developers in India, I can purchase materials from China and I can utilise servers in the United States without ever leaving the house. The opportunities to succeed and grow a thriving business are limited only by your imagination.

Even those moment where a modicum of luck is required, i.e. winning the lottery, is not as it seems. How many people have aimlessly brandished the winner as lucky but who themselves never play? In order to be successful, you have to participate. Luck can’t lead to miracles. You can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. The same is true in life.

Potential is unlimited and it can only be constrained by a lack of imagination. You need to questions why we impose limits on our capability and accept boundaries as reality instead of dismissing them as an unwelcome irrelevance and distraction.

Luck is a lie. It is a nonsensical acceptance of your own shortcomings without unmercifully pursuing personal growth. If we improve 1% every day we exponentially increase our opportunity to become luckier. Read, study, practice harder than you ever have and stick to it; doing so will broaden your horizons, enrich your experience and endow you with the skills necessary to be viewed as lucky by those around you. But you will know better, you will have earned the luck you deserve through hard work, perseverance, grit and determination.

The harder I work, the more I persevere and longer I try the luckier I get.

Written by

CEO / Founder / Coach @FirstbaseHQ Empowering people to work in their lives not live at work ✌️✌

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