Consider this image created by Jack Butcher:
There’s a complicated relationship between work and luck.
We know luck exists, and because of that, we go about our lives hoping for moments of luck to happen to us. It may not be a strategic priority, but I’m willing to assume it’s in the back of our minds, or at least buried somewhere in the methodology of the way we operate.
This image above is a beautiful representation of work and luck.
The incredible part of working hard is that growth is exponential, as the image above shows. As you put in the effort, work turns into learning and builds upon itself to create a faster rate of growth.
Take a look at this figure which shows the exponential nature of growth and explains where we often quit along way:
Image Source: James Clear
Luck is fantastic, but it’s the illusion of growth. While growth requires learning to create a compound effect, luck requires a fleeting moment of happenstance. It’s great, but ultimately inconsequential.
Independent of work, luck is meaningless.
For me, Butcher’s image above (work vs. luck) falls short of the best representation of this relationship because it fails to combine the two. While there’s no way to create luck, there is a way to optimize for it, just in case it decides to cross your path.
It’s called “expanding your surface area for luck,” and here’s what that looks like:
Image Source: BrandKit
The way to create the best opportunity in life for luck is a combination of doing and telling.
Because winning the lottery is luck-based, let’s use that as a metaphor. The more you do (that is to say, the more things you create), the more lottery tickets you acquire. Similarly, the more people who are aware of those things you’ve done equates to more lottery tickets. The combination of doing more and telling more creates the highest chance that you’ll hold the winning ticket.
Instead of using the word “luck,” I like to use the word “serendipity.” Optimizing your life to expand your surface area for serendipity is reflective of living a meaningful, productive, relationship-oriented, joyful life.
To me, it’s best when you combine these two, and here’s what I’d imagine it looks like:
If it’s not obvious, luck happens and propels you forward at a faster rate in one instance, but combined with the work, you keep growing forward at the same steady rate before and after the lucky moment.
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