With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, conversations about luck and good fortune are bound to come up in your workplace. One of the oldest debates about luck centers on whether hard work or luck is more important to finding success in life.
The Case for Good Luck
When you look at people like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk, it’s easy to chalk up their successes to good luck. But what exactly does ‘good luck’ mean? And is someone really lucky when his initial success leads to even more successes? Are these people so lucky they can capitalize on every rare opportunity leading to success?
For most, if not all, successful people in the world, luck is just one aspect of their personal victories. The other parts? Hard work and perseverance.
The Case for Hard Work
Everyone is presented with opportunities with the potential of leading to success. We only call these opportunities ‘luck’ because of hindsight. For example, when we get an opportunity to meet a recruiter or be called for a job interview, we have no way of knowing if this leads a successful outcome in 10 or 20 years.
And this is where hard work comes in. Not everyone seizes every opportunity that comes their way, because it takes a lot of work. But a closer look at the world’s most successful people shows their perseverance in sniffing out opportunities to exploit is ultimately what led to them ‘getting lucky.’
Of course, it’s also true that many people who have worked hard all their lives never find the success they dreamed of. And this is the crux of the problem faced by many people in the workforce today: hard work is not enough to find success.
It’s About Working Smart, Not Hard
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Work smart, not hard.”
Working smart means being self-aware. It’s knowing your limitations and finding ways to get around them, recognizing that sometimes, it’s better to focus on opportunities with better odds of success. It also means prioritizing your needs, asking for help when possible, cutting your losses, and developing your strengths in a strategic manner.
In other words, working smart means exploiting your strengths to maximize every opportunity that comes your way. And this is what you need to do consistently to have a real shot at finding success in life.
Sure, coming across the right opportunity (luck) is important, but getting lucky is a confluence of opportunity and the right approach (hard work applied smartly). When you refer to this basic formula for success, it becomes easier to spot the same pattern over and over again in the people who seem to continually achieve it.