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Tag: motivation

Luck returns – part 2

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?

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20-mile march

Heard of the 20-mile march?

This is about two teams who were heading to the South Pole. On foot.

One team would march 20 miles every day, no matter the weather.

Snow, hail, rain, sleet, wind, whatever else there is in Antarctica – didn’t matter to them.

20 miles ahead they marched.

The other team?

They’d strategize, and some days cover 50 miles, while on others with bad weather, they’d huddle together and stay put.

The first team won. The second team did not even survive, let alone complete their journey.

Both teams had the same equipment, and the same skillsets.

The learning for me? Consistency rewards like nothing else. No point waiting for the perfect sunny day. Every day is an opportunity. Remember GUDUSUNGU? 🙂

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I wish you bad luck

There are many commencement speeches available on YouTube, often delivered by of some of the greatest politicians, businessmen, sportsmen or actors at the various Ivy Leagues. Of course these tend to be extremely motivational, and the combination of wit and pragmatism can help students (and lurkers like me on YouTube) gain credible insight into the real-world that awaits them.

Most of the speeches repeat positive message: work hard, earn money, be humble, be this, be that, do this, do that and lots of best wishes to you and all that.

But US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts gave an unconventional speech a few years ago. He actually said, “I wish you bad luck.” Surely quite unexpected? Here’s a para I found most interesting, pasted below for your reading delight.

"From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”

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Lessons from a wildebeest

Human babies are pretty much useless at fending for themselves. They can do nothing more than suckle and cry at a really loud volume.

But wildebeest babies? Man do they have it tough!

A new born wildebeest’s mother – for many hours after the calf is born – doesn’t even let it suckle. The reason? Safety from predators who abound.

The wildebeest calf must first stand up on its own. It’s mother keeps moving further and further away from her calf, forcing the latter to start following her – first by walking, and then by running. Only when the calf is able to run properly after a few hours, does the mother allow her baby to have her first milk.

Three things struck me, as I watched this on a BBC Earth show.

  1. How lucky we are – despite having no ability to run or walk at birth, we are kept safe.
  2. There is no room for crying or cribbing – run, or die.
  3. If we struggle at the start itself, in anything we do in life, this would form the foundation for future success.
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Statistics and Faith

Hundreds of thousands have given up trying to scale Everest. “Getting to the top is impossible.”
Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. “The job market is dead.”
Hundreds of thousands are dying from the pandemic. “Our very survival is under question.”
Hundreds of thousands have seen salary cuts. “Promotions and bonuses this year – not happening!”
Hundreds of thousands have applied for the scholarship but not got it. “It is not for us mere mortals”.

Vague motherhood statements such as these apparent experiences of the “hundreds of thousands” only serve to demotivate and demoralise.

We are not hundreds of thousands. We each are just one. We just need one job, one chance, one paycheck, one summit.

We must leave no stone unturned in getting what we need.

Forget the stats. Instead, fuel the faith.

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Step aside

When does one become ‘senior’ in an organization? Is it when one has 5 years of experience? Or 10, 20, or 30?

There is no right answer. And for good reason. 25-year olds can and do run companies, just as 65-year olds can and do too.

Everybody’s experience levels are different. Just as their skill sets and temperaments are.

Someone with 30 years of experience might be great in a banking role, but a recent graduate with 2 years of experience may far outweigh that experience in a technology role.

But it is good to treat everyone well, senior or junior. For, today’s reportee could well become tomorrow’s boss.

If someone thinks you are not fit to do a particular job, that is only their opinion. And opinions being free, may come and go. If our mental make-up is not strong, we can quickly feel inadequate.

Forget what others say. No Chairman or Founder or CEO was ever born for or accepted in a role de-facto.

We each have the capability to be anything we want to. As long as we don’t let ourselves stand in the way.

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