On Luck and Success

This article is my reaction to a post in an online forum. It is based on my strong belief that luck has more to do with success than most of us acknowledge.

“In my experience it doesn’t take much at all to succeed in this world,” wrote someone in a forum.

His experience is probably limited to rich parts of this world. Most people “in this world” draw the short straw and are born into poor, corrupt, over-populated countries.

There are several countries where 25% of people die before they turn five, usually due to malaria. Are they to blame for not working harder for success? Can one say this: “those good-for-nothing 4-year-olds in Mali – they expect life to be handed them on a platter. It’s their own fault for dying.” Of course not.

Most of you reading this are super lucky, born into rich countries with low levels of corruption and (relatively) high education, health, and literacy, where personal liberty and economic freedom taken for granted. We are not representative of the world population.

I’m slightly impressed with people in rich, developed, uncorrupt countries who succeed. I am incredibly impressed with people in countries such as India who succeed. I’ve been to India. Corruption and poverty are normal. To succeed from there into the wider world is astonishing.

I was born white, male, in good health, in the late 20th century, in a rich country, where English is the mother tongue. While growing up I received free health care and free education, at levels ranked amongst the world’s highest. I have the economic and personal freedom to travel to most parts of the world. All of this happened through no action of my own. Percentage-wise I am one of the luckiest people who ever lived.