Luck. A Key Ingredient In Success And Failure


It is hard to conceive or accept the idea that luck has a lot to do in the failure or success of our lives.

It is common to base our success solely on hard work and perseverance. Yes! Work is a very important ingredient in success, a long with perseverance. But luck on the other hand it’s something that successful people will rarely point at and it’s crucial.

Why? Because it would diminish their success, it would make it seem like their own success was out of their control. It would also weaken their hard work and perseverance and so… it is rarely addressed.

Be it good luck, bad luck or karma. Whatever you want to call it. But there is a little spark out there that determines our success or failure.

Lets take the case of J.K Rowling. She’s the biggest writer of modern times. It’s undeniable that she has great talent and creativity. Nevertheless, Harry Porter was also the result of luck. J.K. Rowling has mentioned several times that the idea of Harry Porter came to her on the train. The full idea of the first book came to her completely in the course of her train ride.

She took advantage of this and got herself writing non-stop. J.K. Rowling’s success was the result of work, perseverance but also good luck. If the idea hadn’t come to her, she wouldn’t have had anything to write about. She also got lucky enough to find a publisher to publish it.

How many amazing books are out there that have never seen the light of day because editors thought weren’t good enough? Millions! Their writers did the work, they persevered but for some reason they simply didn’t get lucky. We just don’t listen to their stories because they didn’t become a success.

Lets take another example. Brad Pitt went to endless auditions, he did low-key commercials, low-budget movies until he got his big break in 1991 with the film Thelma and Louise. This was a determining moment for his success.

Yes! He’s talented and he’s incredibly good-looking. His very attractive looks are a result of luck as well. His genes might have played a role, but it was also good luck. He’s a talented actor but he certainly isn’t the best out there. Nevertheless, the public adores him, me included.

But Hollywood is plagued by good-looking and talented actors. What makes some succeed and others fail? Between a lot of things, luck.

I remember meeting the actor, James McArthur in the Gatwick airport way back in 2006. McArthur used to be an actor in his younger days and his mother Helen Hays won two Academy Awards. I asked him “what does it take to make it in Hollywood.” To which he replied:

“Luck. It’s about being in the right place at the right time. I met countless actors and actresses who were better than me, better looking and more talented. But they weren’t lucky. Of course having an Academy Award winning mother helped me a lot. But a lot of actors don’t have that and they still make it. Because somewhere in there they had luck.”

His honest reply went against all the motivational quotes about hard work and perseverance, but it made sense to me. Again, we never listen to the stories of all the actresses and actors who poured their heart and soul into their dream and failed. We can´t judge them and deny that maybe they did everything right by the book and still failed.

Now I’m going to put the example of someone with bad luck. My dad partnered with his best friend back in the 80s to start the first computer assembly business in Mexico. His best friend was the brains and my dad was the investor. Business was going well for a startup. They sold their first computers to the Bank of Mexico (Banamex).

But one day his friend committed suicide due to depression and mental illness. My dad kept going with the business because everything was set up and he refused to let it die. But then in 1994 came the HUGE economic crisis in Mexico, which hit my father very strongly. With a business that was just starting and struggling because of his friend’s suicide, and the Mexican peso depreciating significantly, my dad had to close down his factory.

If his friend hadn’t committed suicide and the economic crisis would have hit a few years later my dad’s business would have been saved and I very probably would have been a billionaire.

But both factors were out of my dad’s control. He knew his friend was mentally ill, but never imagined he would commit suicide. As with the economic crisis, he knew Mexico was an economically unstable country, but could have never foreseen the magnitude of the 1994 Economical Crisis. Both were out of his control and represented extremely bad luck. At least money wise.

Truth of the matter is that there  is an endless list of external factors that are out of our control and that have a huge role in determining our success or our failure. This is good luck, bad luck or karma. Whatever you want to call it.

Take a look at your life and see how much luck has been involved in your life. Be it good luck or bad luck. Meeting your partner, having to cross roads exactly at that time and moment in your life. Your job, that even if you’re qualified for it, it came from something, you might have searched and sent your C.V.

Maybe you’re really successful or maybe you feel like you’ve failed. But stop for a moment and think how much of it was actually out of your control and rested upon luck’s hands.


Join the discussion

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