When it comes to Success, does Luck matter more than Talent?

Recent research highlighted by the annual Ignoble prizes may show that, when it comes to being successful, luck counts for more than talent.

The research I’ve linked to below suggests that we typically believe success to be mainly due to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, smartness, effort, wilfulness, hard work or risk taking.

  • But, they say, when you look at who actually gets to be successful, it isn’t the most talented – it’s the averagely talented AND lucky people.

What’s your take on this?

It’s such a widely held view (at least in the Western World), that success comes from who you are and what you put in, that I wonder if readers will disagree with these findings?

Some of the most successful people I’ve worked with go out of their way to acknowledge the role that luck has played in their success. For example,

my clients often say things like “I’ve just been lucky!”

Sometimes they mean it and it’s a recognition that yes, they’ve worked hard and yes, they have some talent, but that their success has come often from being in the right place at the right time.

(and by ‘luck’ I think they mean those uncontrollable external factors that can count for so much.)

At other times, it seems that people are just wary of tempting fate – another recognition that success which is due to external factors can turn at any time.

My view is that you make your own luck.

In business and in other walks of life, you can’t be successful if you’re not actually in the game.

If you’re not out there, playing to the best of your ability, even a lucky break is going to struggle to find you.

Unless, I suppose you are freakishly lucky?

But maybe I’m deluding myself in the hope that my natural talent will eventually get me somewhere? Or I’m just clinging on to a false notion that I have some vague ability to control things that are actually beyond my control.

I would love to know what you think?

  • When you’ve been successful, how much luck was involved?
  • And to what extent did you “make your own luck”?

Here’s the research:



3 Handy Ways to Avoid Doing Great Delegation (Part 1/3)

This is the first of three short posts with some handy tips for avoiding the dangers of doing half-way decent delegation – and of being seen as vaguely competent and therefore deserving of yet more responsibility, stress and leadership burden at work!

TIP 1️⃣: Never start by describing the OUTCOME that you want to achieve.
🧭 This tip is almost too easy; starting with the Outcome is surely just a backwards way of doing things and risks having way too much clarity and direction. Better to get going with the first step that comes to mind and only then figure out where you’re going, and why, along the way. People will thank you for not overloading them with this kind of focus. 🗺

TIP 2️⃣: Always tell people HOW they should do the thing you’re delegating to them.
🔬 This is where a lot of managers go wrong, by imagining that people might have their own way of doing things. Or even, that they might come up with a better way than you had thought of. That kind of thinking is just ridiculous! It’s much safer – and offers much more scope for subsequent micro-managing – if you treat people like robots and tell them EXACTLY how you would do the thing you’re delegating to them, if only you had time to do everything. 🤖

TIP 3️⃣: Don’t offer SUPPORT or set out a process for check-ins and coaching along the way.
⛑ If they need support, what’s the point of delegating in the first place – might as well have done it yourself! If only you had the time; or the effort. Anyway, whatever, the kind of structured check-ins and coaching that supports somebody as they try a task for the first time, or learn to stretch themselves, is soooo demanding of your attention. It is boring. Please people, just go away and get on with the thing I told (sorry, asked) you to do, in the way I said to do it. Just tell me when it’s done. Whenever that is; did we agree a deadline; I forget … 🏖

If any of this strikes a chord, please check out my possibly helpful ebooklet on Amazon: