The difficult choice
In a review of The Dip, a listener writes,
"Many winners and people or companies that get great results or wind up on top simply stumbled into winning or lucked out! He ignores the whole notion of how randomness plays into people or companies being winners or losers. But that's the whole point of these types of books - to make you feel like you have more control over your destiny. I would argue that luck and randomness play at least as big a role as all of this dip stuff. "
Without a doubt, luck is involved. I don't think anyone would tell you otherwise. The choice one needs to make, though is this:
Either you believe that luck is dominant, in which case, why bother with effort?
You believe that luck is random, in which case it can be eliminated from your thinking and you can focus on all the stuff you can control.
I don't think luck alone gets you into Harvard Law School or a clerkship at the Supreme Court. I don't think luck gets someone to buy your car (the best in its class and a great value) instead of the lame alternative.
I've been astonishingly lucky with many elements of my career. Mostly because solid singles turned into doubles or the occasional homer. I figure most of the failures are my fault and many of the successes were really good breaks. But I can't imagine how lonely and depressing it would be to view myself as nothing but a pinball, batted around by forces over which I have no influence.
The problem with not assigning it all to luck, of course, is that you're not only responsible for your wins, you're also responsible for your losses. This decision also means you've got a lot to do all day.
Waiting for the fickle finger of fate to point at you (and cursing the universe until it does) is a lousy strategy. What a shame that so many people rationalize their lives this way. It might be a useful rationalization, but how does it increase the likelihood you'll get what you want?