My great friend and I were having one of our favorite types of discussions; a mini debate on the importance of striking luck and being blessed. This was not the first, and it won’t be the last time we get into this type of discussion. And why stop? Even if we do not agree, we always learn something new and refine our thinking.
I do not believe in luck or talent. Ok – let’s be clear: I am not dissing your ability to do something amazing, I am just saying that if you or your child is doing something amazing it is because you made it happen. Nothing was handed to you on a platter. I also strongly believe that your state of mind dictates if you are going to be successful or not, regardless of what you are doing.
What confuses me, even more, is that my friend is the perfect example of having the right mindset. He got a full sports scholarship to college, he won all kind of awards as a sales rep during his first job, including an all paid trip to the Caribbean and he is now enjoying a successful career in the medical sector. There is no way someone can be given so many different talents. The only explanation I see is that his talent is being great at working hard, applying himself, being resilient, and always seizing opportunities.
The other reasons I dislike this concept of luck is that:
- It is too easy for people to rely on it and blame bad luck for their failures
- It downgrades other people’s success, by insinuating that it is based on luck.
You can probably sense that this touches a raw nerve. It is too easy to look at me now and say that I was lucky to get where I am. Investing $200,000 in my education to get where I am wasn’t luck, finding ways to prepare for competitive exams wasn’t luck, shmoozing the business school admission team wasn’t luck. Answering “yes, of course I would be happy to spend the next 6 months in the middle of nowhere for this consulting project” and being promoted after it wasn’t luck. THIS WAS “MAKING IT HAPPEN”. It was about building interest, learning and being enthusiastic about the things I was doing.
My most successful friends are dedicated to everything they do. They do it and they do it well, sometimes they obsess about it. One of them is a Chess Master who used to be a body builder and is now one of the most successful stock brokers in his field. Another one is a great macro economist with his own successful hedge fund, and learned absolutely everything you can imagine about baby related topics once his son was born (I mean everything… he can tell you about vaccine differences between countries, the best diapers in the world – actually from Japan – but can be bought in Canada for a bargain). My other friend puts the same amount of effort into his investment banking career as he does when he plays Playstation against me. None of this is about talent. They put their mind to something and they don’t stop!
Now let’s go back to the topic of this post. What do you think would happen to you if you entered a negotiation believing that talent and being blessed will help you succeed against one of my hard core friends? Yup, you guessed right… there is no way you would have the upper hand. They would eat you alive. And if you think that being blessed will be your wild card, then ask yourself: Why do you deserve to be blessed more than another person working harder and wanting it more than you?
Key take away: I won’t convince all of you that talent is rubbish, but why not focus on what you can influence? Be the most prepared person, be the most enthusiastic person, be the most informed person. Forget about luck, and just know that you are blessed to have the opportunity. Now don’t mess up!