The role of luck in success

James Joyce, 1 photographic print, b&w, cartes...

James Joyce, 1 photographic print, b&w, cartes-de-visites, 9.2 x 6.1 on mount 10.5 x 6.5 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Most believe that their success is due to their own efforts. Mostly, this is only part of the truth and, in some instances, far from the truth.


Success is largely determined by chance, which begins with our very existence. Our lives are largely contingent. If our parents had never met, we wouldn’t exist. The odds are stacked against there being life at all, as our search for it in the universe turns up more nothing than something. It is a miracle that we have this brief time, on this fragile planet, so unlikely is this occurrence.


So, too, are the talents we have been given and the natural tools we have at our disposal. We may win applause and accolades for our accomplishments, but luck deserves its fair share of the credit. For example, the American Psychological Association points out that children with low socioeconomic status develop educational skills more slowly than children from higher SES groups in large measure because they were born into conditions, such as poor schools and ill health, that interfere with high educational achievement.


Daniel Kahneman formulates success in these “equations”: success = talent + luck; great success = a little more talent + a lot of luck.  Or to paraphrase Warren Buffet’s comment about his own success, if  were born to a nomadic family in the African desert, he wouldn’t be a billionaire today.


It has been said that the doctrine of chance is the bible of fools. But understanding the role of luck makes us more tolerant of those whose misfortune has been great. We are but builders who work with the tools we have been given.


Chance furnishes me what I need. I am like a man who stumbles along; my foot strikes something. I bend over and it is exactly what I want,”


James Joyce wrote. The role of talent is that when chance places before us what we need, we can use what we find.


The world is overflowing and is ready for harvesting when we are prepared. It is we who become available to the world. This is the talent that takes advantage of what luck provides by turning chance into opportunity.







2 thoughts on “The role of luck in success

  1. “The role of talent is that when chance places before us what we need, we can use what we find.” And sometimes too, we are forced to use our unused, unpracticed talents. Success, in my experience, involves a great deal of risk getting out of my comfort-zone, using latent talents…whether I like it or not.

  2. Pingback: Lucky Rich Life – Part 2 (18/108) Luck and Success! | Your Lucky Rich Life

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