Luck and Control

Today, someone on Twitter retweeted the following message:

It’s nice when hard work pays off. Luck is the residue of design.

Lately, I’ve seen more messages like this, that just strike me as patently false. Yes, it is nice when hard work pays off. But luck isn’t a residue of anything. Luck, by its very nature, isn’t something that can be influenced, it lies outside of your control. No matter how hard you work, or how well it pays off, luck was never anything you influenced by working hard. Working hard simply aligned the factors you could control, which is often very, very helpful.

I’ve spoken about this before, but I believe these statements come from a belief that wanting things hard enough will allow you to reach them, and that positive thinking will allow you to alter your life. The flip side to that belief is that people who don’t reach their goals didn’t really want it in the first place, and that if your life isn’t what you want it to be, you just weren’t thinking positively enough, or with enough earnest. I fully reject that idea.

Again, having a burning desire, or thinking positively, will align those factors that are within your sphere of control, but luck isn’t one of these factors. Luck is a disconnected and unexplained factor. Perhaps one day in the future, when we have the capacity to predict everything, we’ll rule out luck as an unknowable factor in the equation of succes, but until that time, the control freak in us needs to let go of the notion that we are the only master of our fate.

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