January 14, 2006

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Money Can't Buy You Luck

There's a saying that goes something like:

"The harder I work, the luckier I get"

I think what it means is that you can, through application, engineer good fortune. But good fortune and luck aren't necessarily the same thing.

The saying works on the principle that if you stick at it, you're more likely to succeed in the face of uncertainty. This may be true. If you roll a dice once, you'd be quite lucky to get a six. If you roll it twice, you're almost twice as likely to get a six. If you rolled it 100 times, you'd be very surprised not to get a single six.

I suggest that "luck" would be throwing the dice once and getting a six. Throwing it 100 times and getting a six is not "luck", even if it does bring you good fortune.

Each roll of the dice is an opportunity. We have no control over the number that comes up, but we have some control over how many times we roll the dice.

So, you can't engineer luck, but you can engineer opportunity. I suggest that people we think of as habitually lucky have somehow created (or inherited) more opportunities. You may, for example, know a guy who's not all that good looking, not rich, not funny, not particularly smart, who is married to an extremely beautiful woman. It could just be blind luck. But it's more likely that he meets a lot of beautiful women.
Posted 2 weeks, 3 days ago on January 14, 2006