Now that we know how to define luck, what can we do with it?
Said definition was pivotal in JimC’s research of companies that apparently “got lucky”. Even when we look at the most successful companies today, one might be forgiven if they jumped to such a conclusion. Oh Google? “Damn they got lucky when they started off. Imagine if they had to start today. They were first movers back then, and that makes them super lucky.” Or Microsoft. “They got so lucky to do some amazing deals in their early days, like with IBM – which completely changed their course.”
But is this true? You decide after reading their story. Back in the 1980s, IBM was looking for an Operating System (OS). They approached two companies – Digital Research, and Microsoft. The former already had an OS, the latter didn’t. But the outcome of the meetings? The meeting with DR was apparently handled in such a (bad) way that IBM preferred to work with Microsoft instead. Now what is the role of luck here? Did MS get luckier than DR? Not really. Both companies were presented with the exact same situations, or luck events, and it would appear DR actually had a leg up, given their ready OS. Yet, the outcomes were materially different.
The conclusion is this. And this applies in our personal lives too, once we accept it and open our eyes to it. Luck doesn’t matter. But ‘return on luck’ matters! MS’ return on luck was way more elevated than DR’s. What we do with the luck we get, the opportunities we get, that’s the only thing that matters. And this is true for bad luck and good luck both. In fact, the luck itself is perhaps hard to categorize as either good or bad. What we do with that opportunity, how we use that to our advantage (or not), is what would likely brand it as either good or bad. Interesting isn’t it?