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You Create Your Own Luck

June 23, 2014

There’s an old tale when discussing ‘luck’ in games of chess.

You can be lucky in a chess game. You may lucky if having been completely outplayed, your opponent blunders away just before you are about to resign. However, you can’t be unlucky. You aren’t unlucky in the reverse scenario where you blunder away a piece. That’s not bad luck. That’s an oversight on your part. Its your responsibility to play well for the entire game.

Its a tale with a true message. You create your own luck. You’re responsible for your own faults.

This often occurs in chess when setting ‘traps’ up. If you’re playing your game well with the best moves, you’ll often play good moves that ‘allow’ your opponents to fall into nice tactical traps. If you’re lucky, they will fail to see the trap, and make a mistake. You give your opponent a chance to go wrong. But, if you go around trying to set up traps instead of playing good moves, you’re the only one at fault when your less than optimal moves see you lose.

You create your own luck. You’re responsible for your own faults. True beyond the chess board?

Of course! Its why the well dressed gentleman might get a chance compliment which strikes up a conversation and leads to a friendship or business opportunity. Its why the sloth doesn’t get the job and is discriminated against. The gentleman ‘created’ his own luck. The sloth should have known better.

You’re been training for a race. Your friend, faster than you normally, runs slowly in the race. Thanks to your training, you just manage beat him. Lucky that he was slow, right? Well… somewhat. Yes, you were lucky, but without your training it would have made no difference. Your ‘luck’, your opportunity, came about because you put in the effort.

You create your own luck. You’re responsible for your own faults. Still unconvinced? Let me give you an example of a breakthrough I achieved recently in my history extension major work essay.

In this colossal essay which I’ve redone umpteen times, I was within sight of the finish. Hard work pays off, you know. But, I’d been advised that one of my paragraphs didn’t quite perfectly match my thesis. I thought it did – would still maintain it did, arguably – but I knew it wouldn’t do. Funnily enough, for all that historiography goes on about localised truths and poststructuralism, history teachers still want nice, consistent theses that form a sort of metanarrative. You know, the thing that Lyotard attacked in the 1970s… But I digress.

So I was trying to reframe this paragraph in different terms. I knew it could be done. But, it didn’t quite seem right. Well, lazy as I was, I decided to look at other parts of my essay.

And what a stroke of luck I had! Looking at a different section of my essay, I saw how to keep all the nice historical debate of my troublesome paragraph, while eliminating all the problems parts by integrating the paragraph into another area. Well, that was fortunate, wasn’t it?

Certainly, in one sense it was. But on the other hand the manipulation of ideas was only possible because of my intense familiarity with the material I was writing about. Familiarity borne out of hours of reading and rewriting. Familiarity borne out of hard work in previous editing. Familiarity of effort.

Good work breeds good luck… breeds good work. What a nice little cycle, eh?

You create your own luck. You’re responsible for your own faults. We forget this piece of common advice too easily. We forget this virtuous ethos too easily. Work, responsibility, effort, these are the keys to good luck. And what a good thing! We are able to create our own luck! Who would wish that we couldn’t? Not I. And bad luck? You can wash that away, too! You don’t create your own ‘bad luck’ . You are responsible for your actions, and that includes all the faults of your actions, and the results they bring. You cannot shirk responsibility by blaming things on ‘bad luck’.

But nor do you want to. You create your own luck. You’re responsible for your own faults. Its an ethos that will take you far.

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