How success, hard work and luck are related
If success were always the result of great effort, that would seem to be ethically satisfying. Sadly, this is not the case. Most of us know people who work extremely hard without achieving success and sometimes even end up facing disaster. Sometimes, of course, it was a lack of judgement on their part, or a lack of business acumen, but sometimes their lack of success does seem to be a result of circumstances beyond their control.
On the other hand, we all also know people who seem to have the Midas touch. They seem to do very little, but they still achieve success.
We might not care to admit it, but there does seem to be some unpredictable force at work when it comes to making a success. Some people call it luck. Some call it chance. Others call it fate. Others again call it being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time.
Take two people who opened an estate agency in similar towns, A and B, at the same time. Both had a thorough knowledge of the business, having worked in it for some time, and both had a sound business sense and sufficient capital. Both were prepared to work extremely hard and the possibilities of success in the property market in both towns were about the same. Both towns enjoyed a stable, reasonably thriving economy.
Five years later, the estate agent in town A is the owner of a successful, thriving business and has opened other branches. On the other hand, the estate agent in town B has had to sell his business and, indeed, has declared himself a bankrupt.
Both estate agents had worked very hard and had appointed very hardworking employees. The economy of the country as a whole had remained stable throughout this period. So why the difference in fortunes?
In town A, a large business park had opened on the edge of the town, although this was not in the offing when the estate agent started his business. Most of the units in the park were soon occupied and became thriving businesses, providing a considerable number of new job opportunities. People moved into the area to fill these jobs and needed to find accommodation. The estate agent cashed in on their search for property and is now wealthy.
It is quite a different story in town B. When the estate agent opened his business, there was a part of the town whose nickname was Silicon Glen because it housed several thriving computer factories. These provided a good livelihood for many of the town’s residents and many of them saved and bought larger houses. New workers also moved into the area, requiring property. This was good news for the estate agent.
The computer market, generally, was doing very well, and success for the town and the estate agent looked set to continue. However, gradually over the years, the smaller computer factories were bought up by a large multinational, a result of their very success. Without warning, this company decided to relocate its factories to a country where manufacturing costs were lower. The computer market was still booming, but not in town B. Instead, there were unemployment, poverty and a depressed property market. It meant ruin for the estate agent.
Neither estate agent could have anticipated the changes in fortunes of the towns where they set up their businesses. Both worked very hard. One succeeded; the other failed. There was a force beyond their control at work. Let’s call it luck.