Great Success = a little more talent + a lot of luck ~ Daniel Kahneman
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his 2011 (my copy) book Thinking, Fast and Slow says “Success = Talent + Luck.” Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers says it a little differently, but basically that, “… outliers in a particular field reached their lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity, and utterly arbitrary advantage.”
“Great Success = a little more talent + a lot of luck” ~ Daniel Kahneman
In the U.S., we like to reward hard work. We want to say that people who put in Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” (from the Outliers book) of practice and toil will be successful. People who expend this much time hope to be successful. And they may be successful—if they are lucky.
Leaving so much to luck is a hard pill to swallow!
We would like to know that at the end of the athlete’s daily three-, four-, or five-hour practice sessions for ten or more years, the athlete will take a Gold Medal at the Olympics. Wait. They have to get to the Olympics first. Sometimes they luck into it by doing particularly well on one day of trials. Alternatively, someone else breaks a leg or sprains an ankle. Good luck. Bad luck. It’s luck.
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his famous musical pieces in the 1700s. Talented. Yes, but he was lucky enough to be born into a musical family. However, both his mother and father died (bad luck!) when he was nine, but he moved in with his older brother (good luck) because it led to some (fortuitous) events that enhanced his musicality to our benefit.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell recounts the 10,000 hours + lucky paths of The Beatles and Bill Gates and many more successful outliers—in this case, people who are “situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body.”
Tony Robbins has another view on luck:
“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.”~ Tony Robbins
The difference is that Tony Robbins seems to imply that preparation and opportunity have a causal relation to luck. Gladwell (and I think Kahneman) would argue that you’re lucky to be in a position to spend your 10,000 hours of preparation in the first place—like Bach, maybe. It’s a nuanced, but important variation in viewpoint.
I offered a similar sentiment, coming from yet another position in my May 23, 2018, post entitled “Life’s A Crapshoot.” I was not looking at success at all, but rather that luck is a fact of life from the very beginning. (I was adopted.) We want to have control over who we are, but we do not. Sometimes that’s great. Sometimes, it’s terrible. Either way, it is frequently plain dumb luck.
Bottom line: I wish you luck. Both kinds. Why? Because sometimes it is by bad luck that we happen on to good luck. I also encourage you to spend your 10,000 hours to master your art, craft, science, etc., but I don’t want you to think that’s your only path. We have many multiples of 10,000 hours during an average lifetime. Perhaps you want to try your luck at something else. There’s no harm in trying. In fact, it may very well be your luck to fail at the first attempt so you can succeed at whatever’s next.
4 Acronyms to Challenge Our Thinking and Prevent Absorption by Artificial Intelligence (AI)
WIIFM — What’s In It For Me?
WIIFU — What’s In It For Us?
WYSIWYG — What You See Is What You Get
WYSIATI — What You See Is All There Is
A thought piece by Kathryn Atkins at Writing World, LLC
WIIFM:WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
When selling to a prospect, a seasoned salesperson will put the presentation in terms of what the customer wants: WIIFM. This is a proper strategy for communicating value in a Business to Consumer BtoC interaction.
WIIFU:WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?
When selling to an organization, whether non-profit or for-profit, a salesperson or business entity will take into consideration that most companies consist of teams of people, collaborators, work groups, and associates in departments that create a more inclusive sense of us. People selling in the Business to Business, BtoB, space are selling to us. It’s not WIIFM but WIIFU.
If we are not selling a product, we may be offering an idea. For online content, then, we want to remember that the question on everyone’s invisible electronic lips is also: “WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?” WIIFU? Why should we engage? Why should we listen? What can you help us do? For the salesperson or the online company creating content, today, this is a harder question to answer, but one that should not be overlooked.
WYSIWYG: WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET
The idea of WYSIWYG has an element of transparency. Honesty. Trust. This is what you are getting. That’s it. No changes. No switcheroos. No “We were just kidding.” The WYSIWYG model has an element of Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” Online and in person marketers will be successful if they are careful to engage WYSIWYG as they go to market. No one likes bait and switch.
WYSIATI: WHAT YOU SEE IS ALL THERE IS
Daniel Kahneman coined the term WYSIATI in his groundbreaking book Thinking, Fast and Slow to introduce us to our bias to make quick decisions by thinking we have all the information we need. It’s an overconfidence Achilles heel that can undermine better decision-making on the one hand, but it can also prove to move us more quickly through the decision cycle. In the old days, they used to call it shooting from the hip. Now we have an acronym for it.
BOTTOM LINE: Business and Life Trends summary. I hope these four acronyms encourage you to reconsider how your customers, prospects, and business social circles see you and how you present your company and your business persona. Of course, we are not our businesses. We are thinking, feeling beings. It is vital that we become aware of our thinking and of how people around us think and feel as we approach the precipice of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We need to know ourselves more surely and more intimately if we are to keep ahead of the bots.
The top left photo is of my husband Don and my son Ted with me at the Gatsby Books signing. Next on the left, friends Tim and Nancy Thomas, and then my brother Bob and me. The threesome at the bottom are my friends, Dave Fleck, Candice Brandt, and Jim Larkin.
Above is a photo of me with with my crazy “pinwheel” pens for giveaways.