Lucky or what?


Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook by Elaine Chan and Priscilla Chan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucky, lucky, lucky

In business as in so many contexts, we hear others say “Some people have all the luck”. Well, is that so? Are some people just lucky or is it something else? What is luck? Is it all pure chance?


I am writing the week after Chelsea won the Champions League, which to the uninitiated is the European (Soccer) Club Tournament. Pundits and fans of other clubs, including those defeated by Chelsea, have said that Chelsea were not good enough to win the competition. A lot of this criticism has emanated from the club’s ultra-defensive approach.

So apparently Chelsea have been lucky to defeat and get past the following clubs: Valencia, Napoli, Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich? Can a football team be that lucky? I don’t think so. Especially in the latter stages of the competition it was all about management and planning. Oh yes, and hard work.

Riding the wave

Is Mark Zuckerberg lucky? He is a multi-billionaire following the recent public offering of Facebook shares. Was he lucky because he had an idea? No, he had an idea and saw a demand. He developed his website, he rolled it out from Harvard to other colleges and universities. He adapted what had become a business. He and his partners thought on their feet. They got investment when they thought they needed it.

Heaven knows how many internet businesses have tried and failed because they didn’t look for an investor or finance when they were still on the crest of a wave.

The Facebook gang worked on their business. They understood the demand. They are phenomenally successful, but they are not lucky. Winning the lottery is lucky. Knowing how to ride their particular wave was not luck.

No excuse

We all have different talents with which to run our particular businesses. We are not successful through luck. We succeed through working hard, making the right business decisions, and getting help when we need it, whether that be advice, hands-on assistance or finance.

Saying someone is lucky in business can be an excuse for our own failings, but an excuse is not a reason. Success is in our own hands, isn’t it?

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Blowing ourselves Sky High in our business lives

Movie poster for 1920 film.

Image via Wikipedia

A week or so back my wife and I were watching the Disney film Sky High with the nine-year old granddaughter. I rather enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun, and in a way it struck me it was an allegory and rang many bells for me.

The story is about a school for the children of superheroes. When the children first go to the school they are chosen on their own ability as potential superheroes and if they do not match up they are put in the side-kick class or stream. Maybe that is how poor Robin learned to be such an idiot.

In the movie, the sidekick children pretty much end up saving the day when an evil Arch Villain threatens to destroy the school and the superhero parents. When they are triumphant the sidekick kids find they have developed superhero powers after all and no doubt they will be a success in the evil world out there.


So at an early age there is a danger that we will all be classified according to our assumed abilities without a great deal of testing. I was certainly classified as a sidekick in my early days in secondary education even though that I had to be quite bright to get into the school in the first place.


Very rough contemporaries of mine who became “superheroes” soon after leaving education were a famous disc jockey cum TV presenter, a popular comedian and comedy actor and an author of an extremely well-known series of comic science fiction novels. If you really press me I might put names to these people but I am not a name-dropper (well, OK, I might be). There was also a well-known politician but I am not sure if he is a superhero or an arch-villain. I guess it would depend on your politics.

Comparisons and success

It is easy for all of us to try to compare ourselves to contemporaries as we get older. Of course many have been more successful than I have in their calling or business. Perhaps others less so. However by hard work and dogged determination we can get there and earn our superhero’s cloak (maybe we don’t want those tight pants).

Success is not measured by fame and nor is it measured purely by money, but what we can achieve, and nearly always by how happy we are and how happy we are able to help other people to be.

For most success is not instant. Usually it involves a hard slog, and often success is in enjoying the game; what we do. Our super powers will come and while we may not be as famous as Wonder Woman or Superman, sheer application will get us there.

What do you think?

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