Why You Should Recognise Luck's Role In Your Success Or Failure

You shouldn't dismiss your hard work, but we all get the occasional lucky (or not so lucky) break. As useful as it is to focus on what you can control in life, there are a few reasons it's worth recognising the factors outside of your control, too.

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Author and personal finance expert Carl Richards makes the case for this point over at the New York Times. Richards says:

Many of us, in fact, seem to be scared to give this kind of luck any credit because we feel doing so devalues our talent or hard work. But here is the conundrum: If bad luck exists and it is not your fault, so does good luck that has nothing to do with your efforts or actions either. And that is OK too.

This is important if you have a habit of beating yourself up over circumstances you can't control. Recognising luck's role in certain situations can help you focus more on what you can control. Instead of dwelling, you move on to a solution.

Recognising luck also helps you avoid something called self-attribution bias, a tendency to perceive things with a bias to protect your ego. In a paper published in the Journal of Experimental and Behavioural Economics, researchers studied how people viewed their own investing skills based on their returns.

When returns were good, the subjects credited their skills. When the market dropped, like it occasionally does, the subjects blamed it on bad luck. No matter how the chips fell, they only held themselves responsible when things were good. You can see how this could be problematic. You discount luck, tell yourself you're an awesome investor, buy or sell at the wrong time and lose your money.

The point is, it also helps to know when the chips are in your favour versus when they're not. Recognising luck can help you look at situations more objectively so you're in a better position to make decisions (and use that luck to your advantage).

Recognising luck also helps with empathy. When you over-credit hard work and throw the role of luck out the window, it's easy to assume everyone else should be able to accomplish the same things you can. When you recognise the role of luck, however, you keep your ego in check, which makes it easier to look at things more objectively and with less judgement.

Richards elaborates more on this topic, so head to his full post at the link below.

Stop and Acknowledge How Much Luck Has to Do With Your Success [The New York Times]


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