I’ve been interviewing for new positions at various companies, and one of the questions that seems to keep coming up is this idea of success can be attained if one works hard enough. And while I cannot know what they are expecting or looking to hear, as in what is the “right” response. I’m not willing to say anything that I don’t believe and as such I’ve repeatedly answered that there is an amount of luck associated with success. I’d like to explore the concept here, to potentially try to change the tide in society.
The idea that hard work alone leads to success, can be analyzed form the perspective of the Wright Brothers (you know the brothers who devised flight). At the time the government had given tons of money to Samuel Pierpont Langley:
secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and one of the most esteemed scientists in the country. Langley was the only flight experimenter to get government funding.
While Samuel (along with many others going back to the time of Da Vinci) all worked on manned flight all had no success. So were they less dedicated than the Wright Brothers? Did they not try as hard as Orvill & Wilber? Were they less persistent? I wouldn’t say so, many people were just as willing to risk their lives to fly, so how did the Wrights’ get it right? I suppose many would say “Insight”.
Lessons From Birdwatching
The Wright Brothers spent a great deal of time observing birds in flight. They noticed that birds soared into the wind and that the air flowing over the curved surface of their wings created lift. Birds change the shape of their wings to turn and maneuver. They believed that they could use this technique to obtain roll control by warping, or changing the shape, of a portion of the wing.
Were the Wrights the first to look at birds and think.. “Hey they can fly why can’t we?”
Where does “Insight” come from?
Insight is also defined as noesis which is the magical switch that ‘clicks’ allowing someone to connect things in a unique novel combination resulting in knowing something new. A lot of the insight definition implies painstaking study of a problem or knowledge of the problem. However, the other half of the definitions lead to intuition, also commonly called “the gut feeling”. An article by inc suggests:
In general, any experience is a good experience, and the more we have of them, the more accurate our gut feelings become.
Thus, Insight is all of the contributions (conscious and subconscious) which allow forward progress to be made. O.k. well that apparently answers the question, work, study, explore & repeat. Surely this is the only answer.. So why are there so many people out there who have been trying to have kids, studied, done everything right, are healthy, and still not reproductively successful?
Lets investigate the idea that there is “Luck” (or more realistically a chance/random component). At the very least we can roll back “Luck” to only one point in life (to simplify this discussion), Birth. All people are born on a spectrum from rich to poor, loving to abandoning and many other dimensions. But the thing here that plays into the above discussion is that of how experience parlays into intuition, which in turn relates to innovation and ultimately “Success”. By the above admittedly simple discussion, we can easily arrive on the notion that if you have more relevant experiences to a given problem (or opportunity) you will be more likely to have good intuition which is relevant to that situation. It should go without saying that the converse is also true, if you never experience things you will have no basis upon which to derive insight. Additionally, it is the nature of the experiences (good /bad, success to failure) that also educate your insight. If you’ve only ever been exposed to bad decisions with terrible (or no real positive) outcomes, you are ill-equipped to make big insightful innovations. So at the very least having a family that teaches hard work and dedication can lead to success (by example) you have managed to be “Lucky” and your are therefore more likely to be insightful and innovative.
So, the bottom line is if you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful innovative people, learn from them, and if your Lucky you too will succeed.