Luck and following through

Today I read this lengthy article +Tevya Washburn shared about survivorship bias. Tevya's share made me think it might be a dainty article about how to develop good luck, but it turned out to be one of those pieces that makes you work to understand it. Most things worth learning require mental energy, though, and I'm glad I pushed through to the end. Guess what. I have good luck. Now I know why.

It's not that I'm particularly smart or talented or that more of my endeavors succeed than those of the average person. It's simply that I have Opportunity ADD. I find it hard to watch opportunities float by, so I reach out and take as many of them as I can. Naturally, this aspect of my personality comes with consequences, good and bad. 

The good

To put it crudely, if you try a billion things, at least a few of them will work out. My curiosity and inability to pass by an opportunity have produced some interesting outcomes that range from visiting 38 states (most of which for no reason at all) to successfully starting a student company (now entering its third year of operation) to finding what I consider to be my dream job.

The bad

I start a lot of things, but I don't finish very many by comparison. Fragments of over 20 or so unfinished websites and blogs I started are scattered across the far reaches of the Internet, useless, abandoned, some with no more than a title. It takes me a long time to clean things, because I usually get distracted and go work on something else. As a student, I was very prone to choose fun over homework. The optimist in me interprets these types of occurrences as an innate ability to quickly identify whether any given activity is "worth it" or "knowing when to quit." On the other hand, I think there's an argument to be made here for calling it lack of diligence. Good thing I'm an optimist!

The ugly

Overload. It happens to the best of us. I seem to be in a perpetual cycle of loading up my plate until it spills over into an emotional meltdown during which I must purchase Ben and Jerry's, close the blinds, and consume Netflix in order to regain sanity. Just last week I had to take stock, recalibrate, and start saying "no!" when opportunity came knocking. Opportunities are tantalizing, but shouldn't be pursued at the expense of basic care for oneself like sleep, eating, and exercise. 

Here are some parting words to consider in case you don't end up reading the whole article. 
It might seem disheartening, the fact that successful people probably owe more to luck than anything else, but only if you see luck as some sort of magic. Take off those superstitious goggles for a moment, and consider this: the latest psychological research indicates that luck is a long mislabeled phenomenon. It isn’t a force, or grace from the gods, or an enchantment from fairy folk, but the measurable output of a group of predictable behaviors. Randomness, chance, and the noisy chaos of reality may be mostly impossible to predict or tame, but luck is something else. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, luck – bad or good – is just what you call the results of a human beings consciously interacting with chance, and some people are better at interacting with chance than others. -Survivorship Bias
Good luck taking your chances!
by Tyler Smith


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