Behind every great success is a series of unlikely events.
I had been hoping to write about Starbound today but my game needs to get reinstalled. Quite tedious but what can you do. Misfortune works that way and I guess now is a great time to talk a bit more about talent, luck, and life. There are two things standing between you and great success in life. These two things are talent and sheer luck.
The latter is way more important than you might think. If Bill Gates had been born in Paraguay he wouldn’t be the world’s richest man. This might sound a bit like hindsight but it isn’t quite so. We get where we are because we are skilled enough to do what needed to be done and we happened to know the right people to be given the opportunity to try.
You can be the world’s greatest soccer player but if you are never given a chance to prove it you’ll never achieve to your greatest abilities. This happens every day of every year, thousands, perhaps millions, maybe billions, of people are squandered. This is because of a weird dissonance we hold between good fortune and bad fortune.
When someone is shot or stabbed we tend to say that they were at “the wrong place at the wrong time” but do we ever knee jerk to successful people merely being those who were at “the right place at the right time”? We do not normally and I think I know exactly why people do not like to believe this is the case. If success in life truly does come from dumb luck and adequate talents, then what are the chances that any of us can truly triumph in life? The odds are quite low obviously, that’s why we tend to look at greatly successful people and dream.
We dream because it makes us feel better. If we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that these people were somehow special that means that we might be special. We might be the next Bill Gates, or the next Michael Jordan, or the next Bruce Wayne. We need people to get where they have gotten because they are exceptional people with exceptional gifts.
That isn’t to say that people like Bill Gates or Michael Jordan aren’t talented folks, they really are. Either could be argued to be the greatest influence in their respective domain. But how many other people are just as talented? Do you know? I know I don’t. Because most other people were never given the chance. They were either born at the wrong time, to the wrong demographic, to the wrong community, or a myriad of other things that they couldn’t control.
That necessary event in their life for the success snowball to start rolling was never presented. It wasn’t because they didn’t try hard enough but because they were merely unlucky. You too are likely unlucky. The odds of you reading this post and being someone of incredible good fortune is quite low because that is the nature of extremes, they aren’t extreme if they are the norm.
This isn’t a cry out to justify my own unluckiness in life. As it stands I am exceptionally lucky. Nearly every job I’ve ever had I’ve done well enough in to win awards and be the figure that other employees turn to. I am an extremely hard worker and I have a deep passion for life that equals my own bodies apparent disdain for living. But ninety nine percent of the time I am shot down for jobs. The old “we found someone more talented” line gets thrown around so much that its amusing.
No, no you didn’t, you just found someone else. This isn’t a matter of arrogance, the same could be said by nearly anyone who applies at nearly anywhere and they would be equally right. If someone is skilled enough to be interested and applying in the first place there is little likelihood that the company just happened to find the exceptional diamond in the rough.
They didn’t, their hubris tells them otherwise, but if it were that easy we wouldn’t have booms and busts. The human race would be rocketing to the stars and we’d all be immortal if we had any idea how to accurately assess people. We don’t, everyone is faking it and some people fake it so well they fool themselves.
Yes I’ve done incredibly well most of my professional life. But every single time I had to first be given an opportunity. I have only made it where I am because of sheer luck. People rise to the bar you set for them but they first have to be given that chance to reach for it.
Most companies and colleges could perform exactly as well as they do now by randomly selecting people who are good enough. Having ridiculous expectations does nothing but frustrate those interested and give the superstitious a supremely unhealthy false sense of security.
PS. I can only hope for a future where everyone can be as fortunate as I have been. But that won’t come as long as we are trying to weed out the wizards from the muggles. There are only muggles and a lot of smoke and mirrors.
This is a picture of Ham.