Feelin’ lucky? The role of luck in success
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve come across a few articles and quotes about the role of luck in success. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this in Outliers – how success many times can be attributed to factors outside of the subject’s control. Jim Collins kind of agrees in this excerpt of his new book “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All” but believes luck is more the catalyst than the cause.
I’m obviously not in Bills Gates’ league, at least not yet :), but I do think luck and timing have a ton to do with success, and I know this first-hand; if it weren’t for luck, I believe I wouldn’t be the Director of Strategic Marketing for the Washington Capitals.
I was at NYU Stern getting my MBA with hopes to start my career in the sports industry. I attended a sports panel at the Media and Entertainment Conference at NYU, on which my current boss, Joe, was a speaker. After the panel, I introduced myself to Joe learned that he was also a Georgia Tech alumnus, which allowed us to converse easily. Over the next year or so, we kept in touch and when he became the Director of Marketing of the Washington Capitals, he tried to contact me to interview for an open position but lost my email address. Luckily we were connected on LinkedIn; we got in contact, I interviewed with him and his boss and got the gig. I later found out that there was a chance that Joe couldn’t make the conference but luckily he did.
Sure, one can say that I worked hard to prepare for that moment. I studied hard to get into schools like Georgia Tech and NYU, I was outgoing enough to network with people in my desired industry, I was persistent enough to keep in touch with Joe for a long time, I interviewed well, and I’ve worked hard since I started at the Caps. But if Joe didn’t make the conference, if he didn’t happen to attend Georgia Tech, and if one or both of us weren’t registered for LinkedIn, I may not be working for the Caps nor would I be writing this blog post.
Do you think luck and timing are big factors in success, or do you attribute success solely to hard work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.