But Is Luck The Only Factor In Success?

In the last post, we looked at the role of luck in success. How luck is a factor that cannot be overlooked when we talk about becoming successful.

But this raises many questions, for example: is luck then the only factor in becoming successful? Should I spend my whole life looking for that one lucky break? Is hard work then a waste of time and energy? If luck never comes, am I doomed to keep struggling forever?

To understand that, we first need to look at the meaning of luck.

Vocabulary.com describes luck this way: Luck is chance or happenstance. If something happens from pure good luck, it seemingly came out of nowhere, based only on fate and not on anything you did to make it happen.

I began the last post with the famous quote, luck is when opportunity meets with preparation.

How do these two ideas relate? In order to illustrate that, let me tell you the story of two people. One who got lucky, and another who does not know.

Ben Wilson, the creator of the ‘How To Take Over The World’ podcast (which I highly recommend, by the way) tells a story in one of his episodes.

He spoke about how as a young man, a politician once joined him in an elevator. It was only the two of them, but Ben did not really have anything to say to him, so the ride went uneventfully. 

Really, there is nothing special about this story. It was just two people who were in an elevator together.

But imagine if it had been someone else that the politician met in that elevator. Perhaps this young lady runs an organization and she needs some support or approval from the politician. She has tried everything in her power to meet this politician, but the gatekeepers would not allow her.

She has everything all planned out – how she would start the conversation, the stories she would tell him, the pitch she would make, how she would end it. All that remained was to actually meet him.

And met him she did in the elevator this fateful day. 

Five years later, when her organization has become large, people will tell the story of that elevator ride and say that was her lucky break. She got lucky.

But what if, when she had met the politician that day, she had not been prepared and had fumbled through her pitch? The politician could not see the point of what she was talking about and so did not give her a positive response. We would say she blew her chance.

What is the difference in all three scenarios? The opportunity of meeting the politician is common to all three of them, but the only difference is that, in one of them, the person was prepared for when this opportunity comes.

She had worked hard and was able to take advantage of the chance that was presented to her. In other words, she got lucky because when opportunity came, she was prepared.

The second story is that of Frank W. Gunsaulus, as told in the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

He once gave a sermon titled, What I Would Do If I Had A Million Dollars.

In that sermon, he gave a very precise and detailed analysis of how he would make use of a million dollars if he should have it.

You don’t achieve such a level of detail by taking it easy. You get it by working hard. In the case of Dr. Gunsaulus, he had been working hard for two years.

And indeed, after the sermon, it just so happens that there was someone in the audience who had a million dollars, and he called Dr. Gunsaulus and gave him the money.

To quote directly from the book, these are the man’s words, “Reverend, I liked your sermon. I believe you can do everything you said you would if you had a million dollars. To prove that I believe in you and your sermon, if you will come to my office tomorrow morning, I will give you the million dollars. My name is Phillip D. Armour.

If the sermon had been a half-assed one about what you could possibly do with a million dollars, I am sure the man wouldn’t have released his money. I know I wouldn’t give my one million dollars to someone who doesn’t know what they will do with it.

Is the statement that luck is when opportunity meets with preparation correct? From what we have just seen, yes, it is correct.

So what should you do with this information? If you want to get lucky, you have to not just be willing, but actually work hard to make yourself ready to take advantage of luck when it shines its light on you.

And I wish you luck in all you do!

Samuel is an avid reader and a freelance writer, in that order. He fancies himself funny, but his friends regularly don't laugh at his jokes. I have been a student of personal development for several years, and I created this blog to share my knowledge with others and help them become better versions of themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *