Is There Something Called Luck ?

“Life is not fair”, goes the popular saying.  Some have luck on their side and those that don’t, are generally consoled “bad luck”, better luck next time.

Andy Grove, former CEO Intel Corporation, a visionary in his time, penning his pearls of wisdom, recognized the existence of luck.  One of the pearls from many he coined,  “There is something called luck, recognize it and make the most of it”. Another successful silicon valley based entrepreneur, Prakash Bhalerao, at a recent talk conducted by TIE Pune, noted that there is something such as “right place, right time”. He attributed success to be 51% luck and 49% hard work. He recalled many immigrants who arrived in the valley during the 80s and 90s became rich, because so much was happening  then.

However only a lunatic will believe it is all luck and no hard work. Casing point, my own uncle, extremely capable, handsome, a Tamilian who could be easily mistaken for a Punjabi and  above all a very nice human being. He was the living example of someone who believed  “all is luck”.  HIs daily routine included 2 hours of Puja, before that a bath that resulted in a unusable bathroom (bath was a ritual that included splashing water all around), count his steps to anywhere and everywhere and a regular gambler at the races. On many occasions, he put his family on the brink of financial disaster, it was my aunt who basically ran and managed the home. A case of a very capable person, hardly motivated to work.

I have this very basic equation, that highlights the equal importance of hard work and the contribution of luck. If anything, it is the prerequisite for success.

performance = motivation * capability

success = luck * performance

luck = time * place

Then there is this story about Napoleon, who used to evaluate promotions of his direct reports based on luck coefficient. At the time of appraisals, he observed that they are all great soldiers, high caliber, but what will differentiate in the future  is their luck. He had this firm belief that luck played a major role in winning wars.

Lucky people exhibit two kinds of behaviour, arrogance and humility. The arrogant insist that it was all due their hard work, capability and tenacity. The others acknowledge that luck had a role to play in their achievement. Standing in the balcony of a high rise in Mumbai, slums on one side and an imposing skyline on the other, a thought crosses your mind, for you could have been born on the other side and life would have been very different. That for many successful people is the source of their humility.

Is there something called luck ?   The ball is in your court now.

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