How Luck Finds You
Recently, I heard an episode of the “How I Built This” podcast with Kevin Systrom, one of the co-founders of Instagram. The whole thing was gold, but the part that stuck with me was the following bit.
RAZ: How much of what happened to you guys, to Instagram and this whole story, how much of it was luck?
SYSTROM: I'd say 50 percent. Actually, I have this thesis that the world runs on luck. The question is what you do with it. Everyone gets lucky for some amount in their life. And the question is, are you - are you alert enough to know you're being lucky or you're becoming lucky? Are you talented enough to take that advantage and run with it?
And do you have enough grit? Do you have enough, like, resilience to stay with it when it gets hard, because everyone gets lucky in minimal ways every week. I mean...you get a break at work to work on a cool project, or you meet someone really interesting.
The difference between people, I think, who succeed in the long run and the people who don't is, frankly, that optimism that, you got lucky, and now it's yours to make awesome. And that first day, I think, we got lucky by having the right ideas at the right time in the right place, and we were lucky to have met each other.
Luck And The Illusion Of Ease
When it comes to work and success (not talking winning the lottery), people don't get lucky results, they get lucky opportunities and timing.
But having an opportunity to do something doesn't mean that you'll see it through. That part is on you.
Think of it this way, if you get lucky, you're probably about to do even more work to take advantage of a fortuitous bounce, instead of sitting back on your laurels.
I love this quote from Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert):
“The most useful thing you can do is stay in the game. If your current get-rich project fails, take what you learned and try something else. Keep repeating until something lucky happens. The universe has plenty of luck to go around; you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn. It helps to see failure as a road and not a wall.”
Creating My Own Luck
Over the past two years I've taken advantage of the luck of whatever free minutes I had to work on my book about the time on the Mongol Rally. It's been the hardest thing I've ever done. I've talked enough about it, but I wanted to let you know that it is finally out and it debuted at #1 in Amazon's "Travel Writing" New Releases.