Luck

Great Success = a little more talent + a lot of luck ~ Daniel Kahneman

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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!

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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,crapshoot 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.

It looks like Daniel Kahneman,  winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences,  Malcolm Gladwell, and I agree!

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.

 

 

What, Me Worry?

I’m still plowing through the 1944 Dale Carnegie book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. The truth of his words in today’s 2016 world makes me realize we’re not that much different today than we were 72 years ago. Or maybe 172 years ago. Or 1172 years ago. I don’t know.

For today’s entry I am sharing from Dale Carnegie’s book this “Just For Today” program by Sibyl F. Partridge, which she wrote in 1925!  If I could do these every day, I’d be worry free. You?

Enjoy!

 JUST FOR TODAY

  1. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
  2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
  3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
  4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
  5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do as William James suggests, just for exercise.
  6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
  7. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
  8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurry and indecision.
  9. Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. In this half hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.
  10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

 

A Real Loser

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No one likes to lose. Winners, especially,  do not like to lose. However, not winning is not the same thing as losing.

Not winning is not the same as losing.

  1. You are only a real loser if you do not learn from your loss.
  2. You are only a real loser if you do not revel in the fact that you still have more room to grow in your chosen endeavor. 
  3. You are only a real loser if you do not want to learn from the winners.
  4. You are only a real loser if you do not question what your goals are and how hard you want to work to achieve them.
  5. You are only a real loser if you beat yourself up.
  6. You are only a real loser if you live in the loss rather than living in the present.
  7. You are only a real loser if you don’t realize that every winner has lost at one time. That’s how they get better.
  8. You are only a real loser if you don’t realize that there will always be someone better than you at some point in your life.
  9. You are only a real loser if you do not understand that you are not the loss. You are perfect. Sometimes, God has something he wants you to learn. 
  10. You are only a real loser if you do not brush yourself off and try again.

              Try again.

                 

Practice Makes Perfect

Winners AND losers practice 10,000 hours.

What does “Practice Makes Perfect” mean? Most people think it means that if you do something over and over and over, your skill (whatever it is) will be perfect. It will not, of course, but one can hope to achieve as close to perfection as possible. Piano players à la Practice Makes PerfectVladimir Horowitz, basketball players like Michael Jordan, authors, painters, gymnasts, race car drivers, surgeons, repairmen, typists, dancers—everyone that wants to excel at something—has to practice. 

Winners Practice 10,000 Hours

To come in first in a competition, to be paid for their work, and to generally reach the pinnacle of their craft or sport or profession, winners practice and continue to practice even after they’re “good.” Why do they call it a medical practice, a dental practice or a legal practice? Because those licensed professionals have to keep practicing to continue to be skilled to their high levels of satisfaction. In his 2011 book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery.

There’s a catch, though.

Losers Practice 10,000 Hours Too!

Continue reading “Practice Makes Perfect”

IKEA Virgin

Have you been to an IKEA store recently?

Back in 2006, we opened season on sending our last son to college. We went to IKEA. I had heard stories, the sagas of the seasons passing during an IKEA visit, but I thought these people must have been exaggerating. They were not. IKEA makes Costco look like a backyard excursion in comparison to the global circumnavigation posed by an IKEA store visit.

 We were in the store for 5 ½ hours.

It was an experience I did not soon reprise: I haven’t been back in nine years. The store was well organized, well lit, fairly well staffed, and clean. It is also cheap and, the 5½ hours notwithstanding, it saves time, which is a particularly important commodity in a working person’s life. For instance, my husband is a lot of things, but he is not a shopper. IKEA is a store for the shoppers of us, but in reality, it’s a store for non-shoppers as well. Why? Because it gets the entire shopping thing done in one, long, grueling, gut-wrenching, foot-searing, back-aching, self-helping, mind-numbing session. In short, you’re your own decorator, designer, shopper, warehouseman, and delivery boy. DON’T FORGET: Bring room dimensions, or you’ll probably end up back there again!

Also, come to your visit with an empty, large vehicle, room on your credit card, and a couple of able bodied, but skinny people that can heft the furniture pieces, but also squeeze into the leftover crevices in your “personal moving van” to get the stuff home.

It’s 2015 today and as I said, I haven’t been back there. I do remember being impressed by the organization and the high-tech environment nine years ago. Everything had a place. Touch screens dotted the pickup area to help you find your items in their vast find-it-yourself warehouse. Thank goodness for numbers! (Who invented those anyway?) Bin numbers, SKUs and part numbers managed the inventory; employees in yellow shirts managed the flow of parts and people.

The food offering (IKEA knew that they should feed customers who would be spending the better part of 24 hours in their clutches) counter-balanced the vastness of the store’s inventory by its marked sparseness: they were out of three food items. There were, however, piles of suspicious looking signature Swedish meatballs, which they promoted with massive colorful signage, take-home offers, and daily specials. I wonder if they’re always on special just to get rid of them.

The store we visited was 28,500 square meters, or about 306,711 square feet. A typical American football field is 57,600 square feet, so we’re talking about five football fields here. We slogged through the stupid thing at least twice, going back to look at different things so our son could mix and match and create his very own college room décor. I found myself biting my lip at some of his choices, but he was spreading his wings and I was grinning maniacally as the grateful almost empty nester.

So while I used to be an IKEA virgin, I am now knowledgeable in the ways of what was then a brave new retail world wonder. As with that other rite of passage, I feel somewhat sullied, but no longer afraid of the unknown. In this case I have sore feet to prove my passage…

Meanwhile, we did right by our college-bound child. He needed stuff, and stuff they had. Lots. Everywhere.

News Blues?

I know we mourn the passing of great newspapers and magazines in print. However, look at it this way… people still seek content. It’s just packaged differently.

According to data published by ZenithOptimedia this week, folks in 2014 folks were consuming media online for an average of 110 minutes a day, compared to only 60 minutes in 2010. And while total traditional media outweighs Internet media consumption, traditional media consumption is on the decline. Print take the worst hit.

Infographic: The Internet Is Gradually Replacing Traditional Media | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista.

So… where do you want your content? Online, of course. The magazines and newspapers get it. They’re all online. And they still need content. YouTube is content…someone writes the script, right?

We’re doing that. Providing content. It’s a Writing World… for writing that means business.

Different

The eighth grade boy was the only one in the classical dance show last night. It was an arts school, yes, but he was alone on the stage. How would he spend his day at a normal school? How does he make this decision every day —to  be different, so different? Because something in his heart makes it worth the pain, and we can only be reminded of Mikael Baryshnikov… a truly great dancer who despite being Russian, was probably still derided by his vodka-drinking buddies for doing pirouettes instead of playing soccer. There were undoubtedly days of being called gay or being thrust head first into a trashcan, or pelted with tomatoes on the way home from the ballet studio. Yet he persevered.

It is scary to think that people who dared to be different may have succumbed to peer pressure; to the pain of being different — and gave up. What if Mozart had given up? Michael Jordan? Bill Gates? How do you know you’re different enough to be really good, though? What about all the male dancers that never make it to that top, and just go through life being different, feeling the pain but never achieving success with it?

Somehow, one must be able to withstand the separateness by basking in the sheer joy of doing what you do because it’s what you crave. It makes you happy; it provides moments of unbridled peace, calm and beauty. It eschews the idea that success in life is measured by money or fame, but rather is discovered by realizing that there is something that makes you so happy you smile from the deepest core of your being all the way out to a glow on your skin. Many people never find that. It’s a shame!

It’s probably because this happiness comes at the cost of the pain, and the moments of frustration and solitude endured by hours and hours of practice in a room with an instrument, at the ballet barre, at the computer, at the driving range, in a swimming pool, or wherever one does one’s servitude to the god of Perfection; and she rarely yields her blessing. Perfection arrives sporadically if at all; sometimes never. Mostly in the blink of an eye, then it’s gone, and you doubt it was there, because, it really could have been better, couldn’t it? Probably so.

So, you’re left wondering… I did it perfectly, or nearly so, and I practiced until my eyes crossed, my toes bled, my muscles screamed in agony, my head pounded. And finally, I tried out. I auditioned, I competed, I sent it off, I played my best, did my best, sounded my best. But what if I did not win, get the part, make the grade, or achieve that illusive next level? I still I love what I do. So I will keep trying, remain different, and be joyfully alone and true to myself.