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Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

Updated: Jan 22

Have you ever wondered why some people are more successful than others? Is it because they work harder? Are they smarter? Or is it just luck?

The truth is, success is a combination of both hard work and luck. But most of us don't realize how much luck plays a role.

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Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

For example, did you know that people who are born in January are more likely to become professional hockey players? That's because the cutoff date for kids hockey leagues is January 1st. So kids who are born in January are a little older than kids who are born later in the year, and they're also bigger and faster. This gives them an advantage when they start playing hockey.

Generally, we tend to overestimate our own contributions and underestimate the contributions of others. For example, if you ask a group of people to estimate how much of the housework they do, the combined total is almost always over 100%. This is because everyone remembers their own contributions vividly, but not everyone remembers the contributions of others.

So, how much does luck play a role in success?

One study looked at the success of NASA astronauts. They found that even though astronauts are selected mostly based on skill and experience, luck also plays a role. In fact, they found that the astronauts who were selected were very lucky. They had an average luck score of 94.7. So how many of the selected astronauts would have been in the top 11 based on skill alone? The answer was, on average, only 1.6. That means, even with luck accounting for just 5% of the outcome, 9 or 10 of the 11 applicants selected would have been different if luck played no role at all. When competition is fierce, being talented and hard-working is important, but it's not enough to guarantee success.

This means that even though luck only accounts for a small percentage of the outcome, it can still have a big impact on who gets selected

Another study looked at the success of track and field world record holders. They found that seven out of eight world records were set with a tailwind. This means that even though these athletes were all world class, they still needed a little bit of luck to set a world record.

So, it's clear that luck plays a role in success. But that doesn't mean that hard work doesn't matter. Hard work is still essential for success. But it's important to remember that luck is also a factor.

Here are some examples of how luck can play a role in success:

  • Being born into a wealthy family. This gives you access to better education, healthcare, and opportunities.

  • Being born into an upper-middle class or wealthy community. This means that you have access to better infrastructure, resources, and opportunities.

  • Having supportive parents and family members. They can provide you with emotional support, guidance, and help with your education and career.

  • Meeting the right people at the right time. This can lead to new opportunities and connections.

  • Having good health. This allows you to focus on your work and achieve your goals.

Of course, hard work is still important. But it's important to remember that luck can also play a role in success.

So, what can you do if you want to be successful?

First, you need to work hard. Have you ever noticed that the harder you work, the luckier you get? Since luck plays a role in success, you need to help create it by being open to new opportunities. Put yourself into situations that increase your chances and be willing to take risks… and you need to be grateful for the good luck that you have.

Here are some tips for increasing your luck:

  • Network with people. The more people you know, the more likely you are to hear about new opportunities.

  • Be open to new experiences. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things.

  • Be positive and optimistic. People are more likely to want to help you if you have a positive attitude.

  • Be grateful for what you have. When you're grateful, you're more likely to attract good things into your life.

So, the next time you're feeling successful, remember that luck played a role. And don't be afraid to give back to others, especially those who are less fortunate.

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