Most success stories lie somewhere on the spectrum between ‘luck’ and ‘destiny’
“Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.” — Terry Pratchett, Mort
We all want to be wealthy, but we may not be scientists or magicians. We don’t have an exact formula or magic potion for getting rich. But we can learn how to make luck inconsequential in achieving success. Luck also comes from directed motion — a concept I recently came across in a podcast by Naval Ravikant (a famous American entrepreneur-cum-investor), and it intrigued me to find out more.According to him, there are four types of luck: ‘Blind luck’, ‘luck from random motion,’ ‘luck from preparation,’ and ‘luck from directed motion.’ James Austin had originally mentioned this concept in his book titled ‘Chase, Chance, and Creativity.’For a long time, I believed luck was all about perfect timing — being in the right place at the right time.But just one stroke of luck isn’t enough.Once you get that lucky break, you need to sustain it — that’s where talent, hard work, and persistence all come into play.Let’s dissect luck to understand the four kinds of luck and why we should focus on luck through directed motion.
You win a lottery. You inherit a beautiful mansion from your deceased uncle who had no kids of his own. You’ve found a stash of diamonds hidden in one of the cushions you purchased.You get the point — you simply get lucky with almost no effort required at all.While it’s much sought after, be careful what you wish for because blind luck can ruin your life. Most lottery winners go broke because they don’t know how to handle the windfall.
It relies on probability theory. If you keep stirring the pot, something might eventually work out.You need to be persistent for this luck to happen. Pivot as soon as you realize things aren’t working your way.Assume you are a new writer — you keep churning content, you also network, blog, read, comment, follow, and socialize with others. Suddenly one day Gary Vaynerchuk reads one of your blogs and reaches out.Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da!That luck is generated purely out of random motion. While your article had enough substance for Gary to reach out, the fact that he read your blog was purely by chance — a ‘random motion’ that led to increased followership the next day.You are generating enough energy that luck eventually finds you.
Luck from preparation
In this scenario, you find luck instead of ‘luck’ finding you.You are well read. You have done your research. You have gained enough expertise in your field of interest.When the right opportunities arise, you are amongst the first ones to notice and grab it. Others have not even heard about it.You get a first-mover advantage. That’s luck from preparation.
“Chance favors the prepared mind” — Louis Pasteur
Stephenie Meyer, the author behind the New York bestseller ‘Twilight’ was a stay-at-home mother before she began writing fictional stories about vampires. She once dreamed of a beautiful girl and a sparkly boy (who turns out to be a vampire) having a conversation in the meadow. Her book series has sold over 100 million copies to date and placed her in Time magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in 2008.” She didn’t just get lucky. She had majored in English literature. She had gained beautiful story-telling skills. She was passionate about vampire stories. She kept building the plot until she had completed her first draft. To get her book published, she left no stone unturned. Fifteen publications rejected her before a small publishing house finally accepted her book.Read, research, and upskill yourself. When the right opportunities emerge you’d be ready to embrace it.
Luck from directed motion
The most difficult of them all, call it destiny or as Naval puts it — “luck from a unique character.”This luck strikes when you develop a combination of skill-sets, traits, and characteristics unique to you that no one else possesses.You compete in a space that you have created for yourself. No one has ever discovered it yet. No one will ever take that place either.There are several search engines, but there is only one Google. There are several mobile phone companies, but there is only one Apple. It started as a simple idea somewhere but today they are at the top of their game.This is where luck ceases to be luck.You are directing all your efforts into one vision. You are not leaving anything to luck.A decade ago, we’d have laughed at the idea of an electric car manufacturer set to operate in the luxury car segment. But no marks for guessing who didn’t.Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, two engineers who co-founded the company Tesla Motors. They were looking for venture capital funding for their electric car and met Elon Musk. Elon knew about the potential of the electric vehicle industry. He funded almost 95% of the capital required in 2004. In less than a decade, Elon Musk has completely changed the game. Today Tesla is a leader in the luxury electric automotive business — a niche possible because of the vision that he had for the company.
“In 1,000 parallel universes, you want to be wealthy in 999 of them.” — Naval Ravikant
He says as long as you have a functioning body and a functioning mind, you’ll be able to generate wealth through directed motion.You might fail many times, but as you learn and pick right up, it keeps adding to your wealth. It’s not one giant payout, but a series of decisions to create wealth consistently and incrementally through the right opportunities and investments.The last luck is where the meaning of ‘luck’ fades away and it becomes more deterministic. This is where most people will not operate.To generate wealth through ‘directed motion,’ think beyond the obvious, be eccentric, be bold.
“You can’t be normal and expect abnormal returns.” — Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford Professor
What does this mean for you? How can you use ‘luck’ to your advantage?
Blink luck doesn’t require much effort or skill set. Luck finds you. You can’t do much for the odds to be in your favor.Random motion requires you to keep hustling until you strike gold. Increase the probability of encountering success. Be curious. Experiment and explore.
“I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.” — Charles Kettering
Luck from preparation requires you to look out for the chances that others might miss. You have the first-mover advantage.Gain enough expertise in at least one or two skills to call it your strengths. Be persistent.Stephenie Meyer also faced rejection several times before a major publication accepted her book. Trust your inner instincts and capabilities.Luck from directed motion requires you to see what no one else can. Create your own opportunities. Be creative. Luck becomes your destiny.Your ideas and vision need to be exemplary. It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely challenging. It’s where luck ceases to be luck. And you focus to achieve your wildest dreams.
“Extreme people get extreme results “ — Nivi, venture capitalist
Money and success don’t matter. They are a byproduct of what we are set to accomplish.