Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye!

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Success = Some Talent + Luck
Great Success = Some Talent + A Lot of Luck

Daniel Kahneman, 2005 Nobel Prize Winner

He was a terrifying fast bowler. With unexpected bowling style and fierce pace he could walk into the current team of West Indies or any country today. He just played just 27 tests for his country and deserved to play more but couldn’t. Same story with this man from India. He was an exceptional spinner of the highest quality. Would have been the lead strike bowler in the current Indian team. However, he never played a test for India. What denied them the glory we believe they deserved, when we look back at their abilities and capabilities?

Luck. Fortune. Fate. These words are used by us to describe our own failures and tribulations that engulf our lives. But success. It is all because of our hard work, intelligence, strategy…and more importantly, don’t we absolutely deserve it! Luck as a factor in success, has been given less weightage than what it deserves.

What is luck? Being right at the place at the right time with the right…that’s luck. Michael Lewis, the bestselling author, attributes his career break to be seated next to the wife of a Wall Street big wig at a dinner. It was she who forced her husband to give a job for him at Salomon Brothers, which was the place where we future of Wall Street as we know today was being shaped. He learnt a lot about Wall Street which he used to writing his books. If he was at any other seat at the dinner, would it have been Michael who?

On a philosophical front, it boils down to fatalism and determinism. Fatalism holds that things will happen to you no matter what you do. Que sera, sera – jo hona hai, woh hoga.  Determinism holds that what you do is part of the universe’s chain of events and you just play your part. Question which we need to address is, how to deal with the factor of luck that is so prevalent in our life?

Gratitude (thanking our luck) should be the first attitude. No matter how talented you are, just imagine if you were born in war torn Syria or Afghanistan your chance of success is less than someone with half your talent but was born in a more free and entrepreneur friendly country like USA. Hence it is important to recognise freedom of speech, food security and basic comforts as a blessing which many do not have. 1 in 9 go without food every day in this world. If you had had your breakfast, lunch and dinner you are among the 8 who are lucky to have 3 meals in a day. Start counting many such lucky things in your life, it will make you a different person.

Now to some research on luck. It has been found that gratitude increases our willingness to contribute to the common good. In an experiment at Northeastern University USA, research subjects were stoked to feel grateful. They and a control group were given an opportunity to take actions that would benefit others at their own expense. Subjects in whom gratitude had been stoked were subsequently about 25 percent more generous toward strangers than were members of the control group. Gratitude makes the world a better place.

Even more interesting is the study that reveals that recognizing our luck increases our fortune. University of Miami researchers in an experiment asked a group to note all the things they are grateful for, a second group of things that irritated them and the third to do nothing. Researchers found that those who felt grateful of things were happier, slept well and experienced less aches and pains. Other two groups did not find any improvement.

Recognising luck helps in controlling another dangerous trait – ego. As E. B. White once wrote, “Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” As they say, count your blessings. And remember to share the proceeds of your blessings with those less blessed.

Please help luck feel lucky!

Regards,

Kamesh

P.S: The West Indian fast bowler is Colin Croft and was born in the era of Garner, Holding, Marshal and Roberts. The Indian spinner was Padma Shivalkar who was born in the era of Chandra, Prasanna, Bedi and Venkat.

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