Luck, don’t underestimate it!

For reasons too complicated to explain I looked at info about Napoleon the other day. Putting aside all his personal ambitions and bumptiousness I found that in terms of military planning he was innovative, prepared to be flexible and did not underestimate luck. Good for him – luck is too often mistaken for success. Would Trump be President today without luck? I sure he believes his presidency is the result of a brilliantly run campaign devised by himself – no, he was lucky because he was up against a candidate with no credibility amongst swing voters and independents. David Cameron was unlucky with Brexit. He gambled that he would be able to argue for remaining in the EU but did not count on voters using the referendum about the EU to show their unhappiness with government overall. Another time, another place and a bit of luck, the result would have gone the other way. Ironically, research indicates that those regions who voted most strongly to leave the EU are the most likely to be hit negatively by leaving the EU in terms of indicators such as employment and investment. Bad luck for them. In some ways the US became the power it was as a result of being lucky. Following World War Two, they were the only developed country that had not been ravaged by the horrors of the war. The US took advantage becoming the major industrial and economic power in the world. However, sometimes success can blind people into forgetting how lucky they were. As a result, complacency sets in which is why the US is now being overtaken by countries such as China and India and the technological advances they once owned no longer exist.

Did luck play a part in Zuckerberg eventually owning all of Facebook? When England won the world cup were they lucky to be playing at home? Alan Wells the British sprinter who won Olympic gold in Moscow was lucky the the US were boycotting those games. How much influence did the winter have on Germany’s unsuccessful invasion of Russia in World War Two? I could go on………..

Clearly Mark Zuckerberg is a good businessman, the US took advantage of their excellent infrastructure, positive culture and acumen, and the England soccer team did have some world-class players. It is recognising the part that luck plays which separates the successful with the rest.

As the South African golfer Gary Player once said – ‘the more I practice, the luckier I get.’

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