It’s both liberating, shocking, mildly depressing, and inspiring at the same time — it just depends on how you look at it.
Are you ready for the truth?
Can you handle the truth?
A great part of your success and well being in life…
Is completely up to chance.
We like to believe we’re in the driver’s seat of our lives, but more often we’re doing nothing more than reacting to what happens to us.
The arrows of circumstance push you in different directions in subtle ways constantly. Think of it this way.
You could’ve ended up with thousands of different romantic partners than the one you have.
The day someone picked on you in third grade could’ve cemented some deep belief in your mind that guides your thinking today.
The good and bad things that happen in your life shape your beliefs. Your beliefs influence your decisions. Your decisions determine your future. If you go back in the past and tinker with any of these elements even slightly and your future is completely different.
See, most gurus will tell you to set super-specific goals, put your head down, grind, believe, and things will work out exactly how you want them to. That’s just not true.
Due to the large role of chance in our lives, even a high level of motivation doesn’t guarantee success.
There are good business ideas that fail because the person with the idea didn’t meet the right people or a competitor happened to have an advantage over them.
If you replay Bill Gates’ life one thousand times, he probably only ends up the founder of Microsoft once. A lot had to go right for him to make the company a success. That isn’t to say he wouldn’t have done well in life. He likely would have because he’s intelligent. But the odds of him becoming a mega-billionaire in each scenario of how his like could’ve played out are basically zero.
Wild success is usually due to a disproportionate amount of luck, so to aim for it and stake your livelihood on it is probably stupid.
Instead, what you want to do is increase your odds of being successful, keep your eyes open for opportunities, and believe in yourself.
There are a couple ways you can do this….
I write, speak, and know how to do some SEO and basic web development. Each skill on its own might not be enough, but creating a combined “talent stack” of skills prepares you for all sorts of opportunities. The key isn’t to try and figure out where those skills will be useful, per se, but have a general idea of how they’ll be useful and continue to develop them. Everything you learn is useful. Knowing a line from an obscure book could help you in a business meeting where a potential client happens to have read the same obscure book. I think of myself as a machine — stockpiling skills like Neo in the matrix downloading skills as programs. I devour as much information as I can. Oftentimes my skills come in handy when I least expect it.
Keep making little bets
So you increase your odds of success by being more skilled, but still, it doesn’t guarantee it. If you want to hit a home run, you have to swing at a lot of pitches (eloquent analogy I know). I’m a writer. My plan is to write a new book every 6 months. I’ve sold many more books the second time around than the first. I hope this trend continues. My real hope, however, is to strike gold. As a writer, you don’t know for sure if you’ll strike gold. J.K. Rowling didn’t know. She may have believed in her characters, but there was no way she could’ve been certain Harry, Ron, and Hermione would become household names. Her book was also rejected a bunch of times before she published it. She had to keep swinging. When you make “little bets” you structure them in a way that no loss is too harmful to overcome. That means instead of pouring your entire life savings into one business, try beta tests of products that don’t cost much to see if people buy them first to validate your idea. Think test, experiment, repeat.
Stop being scared
Luck plays a large role, but most people are playing a rigged game when they let their self-doubt keep them from doing anything. That’s when your chances truly fall to nothing. I know you have some “thing” you want to do. I can also guess that you’re either not doing it or you’re in the beginning stages of it and already feel like quitting. I write these emails once a week with similar messages because it takes constant reminding — that you only have one life, that fortune favors the bold, that you can do something today to increase your odds.
You’re already lucky.
Because you’re alive. The chances of you being born are infinitesimally small already. You found yourself on the right side of chance when you took your first breath. Don’t be arrogant enough to waste because of a little fear. That’s just your ego talking.
You’re already lucky…
Make today your lucky day.
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Originally published at medium.com