“Luck is such an interesting concept. Personally, I think you have to work very hard to be lucky. But even then you have to be lucky.”
—Betsy Lerner, from her blog post You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are Boy
In other words, you can have hard work without luck, but you can’t have luck without hard work. You can have both—in which case you can thank both your scrappy grit and your lucky stars.
I believe this is true. I suppose it’s possible to have brief periods of luck without hard work, but the luck will bite you back if you don’t start working hard to keep it going.
For example, if you win the lottery, you end up with a whole slew of new problems. How should you manage your wealth? How can you keep from spending it indiscriminately? How will you manage your relationships with other people in light of your new wealth? How will you ensure your life has meaning, when all of a sudden everything comes so easily? Without hard work, your lottery win could end up being your downfall.
Last year, someone bought me a lottery ticket. I won five dollars! It went to my head, and I didn’t put in any work to get a handle on the situation. I overestimated how much money I had, went on a massive spending spree, went bankrupt, lost my home, and was forced to live in a gutter, until, several months later, I got rescued by the Humane Society—they thought I was a dog. But, you see, I was barking like a dog for weeks, purposefully so that would happen. See what I mean? Hard work is needed for luck.
Sorry about that last paragraph—only the first two sentences of it are true. I get carried away sometimes. But the point is, if you want to win a marathon, you have to train with the utmost dedication for years. Then you also have to get lucky. Do you have the body of a marathoner? On race day, do you feel healthy and not sick? Who are your competitors, and do they feel healthy or sick on race day? And so on.
Are you working hard so you have a chance of catching some luck?