The correlation of performance and luck is something I’m always curious to find out about. My rationality doesn’t buy the idea that everyone could possibly achieve their ‘dreams’.
Though we’ve been conditioned to associate living a meaningful life with the relentless endeavor to aim for greatness, I don’t think everyone has exactly the same chance to arrive at the top of the food chain.
First, the environment where you were born dictates some sort of ‘luck’ bestowed upon you not by choice. Just like the comic from where I took the picture in this post eloquently depict this very constitutional luck.
But, yes, we do have some chance arising from the circumstances. Outside the things we do not have even small control upon, there are definitely some things we could control especially when dealing with ourselves. And within this small circle of control that we have, we could attain a better chance to achieve whatever things that we wanted (though it still doesn’t guarantee you a success). So, inside this framework, one must work hard, to make the best shot in order to make the most of one’s live.
However, I was told that research performance greatly influenced by ‘inspiration’. But to get into the inspiration itself we must have perseverance (As Edison said, Genius = 1% inspiration 99% perspiration). To put in another way, you couldn’t expect yourself to have a sudden revelation about how the universe work without knowing anything regarding fundamental law of physics.
As Hamming impressively said in his advice to young researchers:
Some people work with their doors open in clear view of those who pass by, while others carefully protect themselves from interruptions. Those with the door open get less work done each day, but those with their door closed tend not know what to work on, nor are they apt to hear the clues to the missing piece to one of their “list” problems. I cannot prove that the open door produces the open mind, or the other way around. I only can observe the correlation. I suspect that each reinforces the other, that an open door will more likely lead you and important problems than will a closed door.
His suspicion about open door leading to important problems indicates some sort of circumstantial luck. Something that we can work on. It is a choice to mingle with the right people with the right minds. Thus, it lead us to what usually called as ‘The Lucky Network’.
Differs from important contacts, the lucky network is some network that we have with unforeseen opportunity. While an actual opportunity is expected from important contacts, we just do not know yet what the lucky network will bring. And we must nurture it with the openness to interact with new people, and to build an authentic relationship with those who possess similar interests with us. It may eventually lead us to somewhere.
Now, when I try to reflect on myself. I was likely a person who cultivate lucky network intensively. When I used to interact with some sort of important people, I just didn’t try too hard to mingle with them because I value authentic relationship more than just an access to certain circle of influence. I just couldn’t fake it. And I also don’t get my work done quickly. I am a super-lazy/messy person, free spirited and still working on my way to have more control towards immediate gratification and procrastination.
But, now even if I take no formal part nor important role in any organization and also I have try to distance myself from excessive social life, I still couldn’t get my work done. It feels like I have tried my best to avoid trouble, but trouble keeps finding me in my secret hideout. And I just couldn’t help it but to face them, because I feel it’s my call. Why those people cross path with me if it was meant nothing?
My mother used to tell me that we have kindness muscle. If we don’t try to stretch it, then doing kindness must feel very difficult despite of its ease. We may feel the pain and discomfort at the beginning, but that’s how it works if we want to improve.
I still don’t know whether this is just an excuse or not. But, I think being beneficial to the others is the true essence of being great, while the fame associated greatness (as how we’ve been conditioned to think by the world we live in) is just an illusion. I may or may not be useful for many people when I do all the work, publish papers, being a good researcher. But all I know is right here at the moment, some people need me to do something I can do, to say what I can say. And it could benefit their lives for real, at least for now to relieve their sorrows, to bring smile on their faces.
As I read in ‘Family Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari ‘:
I guess it’s true what the wisest among us have said for centuries: at the end of your life you will find that the things you thought were the big things were actually the little things, and that all those things you thought were the little, the unimportant things were actually the big, important ones.
And everyone can do that little things.