All posts tagged Luck

  • Wouldn’t It Be Cool?

    Ben Corman wrote an excellent follow-up to Ryan Holiday’s post about new media resumes last week. Central to Corman’s message:

    Don’t be afraid to suck. Building a new media presence, writing a novel, starting a business, learning to juggle — you don’t develop any of these skills without actually doing them.

    Most importantly, though:

    Sucking is not the worst thing that can happen.

    Last month, I wrote about luck. Last week, I found the source of the half-remembered anecdote that I mentioned in that post. I found it while re-reading Getting It Together by Noel Whittaker. He’s an acclaimed financial adviser and popular Australian author. His new media presence may be lacklustre, but the advice he offers in that book is crystal clear in its simplicity and scope. From the back cover:

    Noel Whittaker came from a poor farming background to become one of Australia’s most respect financial advisors with weekly columns in most of Australia’s leading newspapers. In Getting It Together he gives young people simple techniques to discover and use their true potential.

    It’s an excellent book. I intend to revisit it at least once more before year’s end. That anecdote, transcribed in full:

    Haven’t you wanted top grades without doing the work, sporting honours without doing the practice, a fit body without doing the exercise? Of course you have – that’s human nature. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, tells the story about a famous musician who was accosted by one of those social chatty women at a cocktail party. “I’d give anything to play like you,” she said. “No, you wouldn’t,” he replied. “You wouldn’t be prepared to practice for hours, to give up the social life, to exist on a pittance while you were trying to make your mark – that is what made the difference.” (Whittaker 1993, p. 42)

    Success isn’t conceived overnight. Before success is born, there’s a hundred nights of failed conception attempts. Yes, I’m equating success to intercourse. Isn’t metaphor fun?

    Corman concludes:

    So here’s your homework assignment. Take one thing you wish you were doing that you’re not doing. Now, everyday take an hour (or maybe ten minutes) and do whatever it is. And in a year you’ll be able to look back at how much you’ve improved. Or in a year you’ll still be sitting around thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if I did _____.”

    You know intuitively that it would be cool. Go and do _____.

  • On Luck

    A Ben Corman post reminded me of an article I read within the last month – unfortunately, my Googling skills seem to have failed me, so I can’t link it.

    The article described a world-renowned musician at a dinner party. A woman introduced herself, and told him that she’d “give anything to play like him”. He immediately responded: “no, you wouldn’t”. She wouldn’t devote the thousands of hours of practice in social isolation to master the craft, as he had.

    People always want the quick fix; they don’t want to put in the required effort to be truly knowledgeable, or talented, or athletic, or popular, or rich, or all of those things. Logically, that’s why people are so enamoured with the notion of celebrity: so that they can live vicariously through the lives of the rich, the athletic, the talented – without having to change a damn thing about themselves.

    I hear that L word thrown around a lot, too. Sometimes at me, for the small achievements I’ve made and opportunities I’ve undertaken. But it’s not luck. Luck is very rarely the reason why intelligent people end up in enviable – ‘lucky’ – positions. It seems that “you’re lucky” is the automatic response to news of any significantly positive personal development.

    A fork in the road. You can spend the rest of your life wallowing in “could have”, “should have” and “would have”, wishing that you were someone else. Or you can take action, and work toward becoming the person you wish you could become.

    In life, there’s very rarely a quick fix. If you want to achieve something significant – something that’ll be perceived as ‘lucky’ by less motivated people – you have to work hard for it.

    So, which road will it be?