By Guest Contributor Neil Francis
Inspired Thinking is an innovative way of discovering new ideas to achieve meaningful success. It helps you discover inspiration from new ideas and insights which will lead you on a journey of discovery, meaning, enjoyment and purpose. Today we speak to Neil about luck and it’s part to play in meaningful success.
A lucky event of our time
On 26 November 1983, in Hickory, California, an industrial paper salesman and a mathematics teacher had a son, Chris. Seven months later, on 14 May 1984, in White Palins, New York, a dentist and a psychiatrist had a son called Mark. Eight days after that, on 22 May, in Gainesville, Florida, a psychiatrist and a teacher had a son they named Dustin. Eighteen years on, Chris, Mark and Dustin were about to start their second year at Harvard University.
Tucked away in an office on the Harvard campus, an accommodation officer ran a computer programme that as- signed students to their rooms for the year ahead. A printer jumped to life, producing the lists of who would reside where. The lists were then pinned to notice boards in the school’s various dormitories and houses. The next day, when second-year students arrived on campus, Chris, Mark and Dustin learned that they’d be living together in Room H33 of a red brick residence called Kirkland House.
These three young men were Chris Hughes, Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, who later, from Room H33, founded Facebook. That computer programme that randomly put the three together helped start one of the biggest companies in the world. In that room, the ‘chemistry’ between Hughes, Moskovitz and Zuckerberg fuelled a creative flow of ideas around building a social networking platform.
Because they were thrown together in that student residence, Hughes, Moskovitz and Zuckerberg are now millionaires or billionaires. They’ve changed the way we all communicate, self-identify and share details of our lives. In doing so, they’ve inspired so many other entrepreneurs. It would be easy to conclude that at the core of their success lay their creativity, talents, skills and hard work.
But is that the whole picture? Was something else – something more fundamental – part of the mix? Well, Hughes hints at what this could be in his book, Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn.
“Saying people get lucky is not a denial that they work hard and deserve positive outcomes… It is a way of acknowledging that in a winner-take-all economy, small, chance encounters – like who you sit down next to at a dinner party or who your college roommate is – have a more significant impact than they have ever had before. In some cases, the collections of these small differences can add up to create immense fortunes.”
Just think about what Hughes was saying. As improbable as it sounds, what seem like small, random events, like chance encounters, can end up having the most significant impact on your life.
So, here’s a question: how successful do you think you’ve been so far in your life?
And by success I don’t just mean how much money you’ve earned or how senior a role you have in an organization. Consider other indicators of success: what professional qualifications you’ve achieved; whether you’re currently employed and secure in that job; if you’re raising a family; if you have free time to do things you enjoy doing; if you’re at ease and generally happy. Hopefully, most of us would say that we have been successful in these important aspects of our lives.
Then, ask yourself this: how much of the success you’ve achieved so far can you attribute to your own actions – to your effort, work and input? And, how much is down to chance, to factors beyond your control, like who you sit next to at a dinner, meet on a plane or room with in college? Personally, I would attribute 55% to my own effort and achievement and 45% to factors beyond my control.
Butlet’s think about this. In the end, is it not 100% due to factors beyond my control? Just think about Hughes, Moskovitz and Zuckerberg – if that computer programme hadn’t placed these three together in room H33, Facebook might never have been founded and my bet is that they wouldn’t be as wealthy and successful as they are now.
Warren Buffet, the investor and philanthropist, calls this the ovarian lottery:
“The truth is, I’m here in my position as a matter of luck. When I was born in 1930, odds were probably 40 to 1 against me being born in the United States. I did win the ovarian lottery on that first day, and on top of that, I was male. Put that down as another 50/50 shot and now the odds are 80 to 1 against being born a male in the United States, and it was enormously important in my whole life. To think that that makes me superior to anyone else as a human being is just… I can’t follow that line of reasoning.”
Setting the stage for Buffet’s extraordinary success is the fact that he was born in the US as a white man. Basically, he was incredibly lucky, and he recognizes how these factors allowed him to achieve success with more ease than some- one with a different demographic profile.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neil Francis is the author of Inspired Thinking, Positive Thinking, The Entrepreneur’s Book and Changing Course. He is Chairman of a digital agency, Pogo Studio, Director of a software solutions company, Company Net, Trustee of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, and Trustee of Sporting Memories. He is British and lives in Scotland.
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Learn more about Inspired Thinking
Inspired Thinking is an innovative way of discovering new ideas to achieve meaningful success. When someone or something inspires you, it pushes and propels you to do something new or different. It gives you new ideas and a strong feeling of enthusiasm and excitement. And this is the key point of this book; helping you discover inspiration from new ideas to positively change your life. Each chapter is packed with new ideas from various sources of inspiration such as stories, practical examples, tips, tools and strategies, which will help you discover meaningful success.
The book will explore ideas around personal value, individuality, risk, self-belief, triviality, purpose, staying young, proactivity, determination, heroes, goals, collaboration and legacy. Inspired Thinking is an important book for the 21st century, helping you to set the right goals and objectives to lead you on a journey of discovery, meaning, enjoyment and purpose.
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