I'm now convinced survivor bias needs to be taught in kindergarden and every year thereafter.
I've actually studied acting for years. I've seen a lot of terrible actors and people who are good and struggle to get parts.
On observation. One of the biggest things to being a good actor or at least not a terrible actor is to learn that acting is much more about reacting. Learning to listen. Stop reciting lines, and instead LISTEN to the other people on stage and their needs and desires. Then react to those. A good actor could forget all their lines and still get through a scene because they can just react in character to what's going on around them.
James, as you can imagine from this article, was awesome at just listening. He didn't start out as a great actor but this quality definitely helped get him there.
On taking chances. I know some good actors who are baristas right now when not acting. When James needed money as a starting actor he was helping other actors recite lines, cleaning actors dressing rooms, even washing their cars. Which do you think will get you more possibilities for "luck", making coffee for random Joes, or helping Marlon Brando with lines?
But I agree with you that there are a lot of people trying and they'll never be as successful as James. But I also know a lot of people who won't ever as successful as they want because they do so little to find new opportunities. Also, the article wasn't titled, how to be as successful as James Garner, but was meant to point out some things Wiseman has found "lucky" people (not necessary James Garners) doing that "unlucky" people aren't.
If you were asked on the spot to name the names of a few acquaintances(not people you know, only people you know of), you'd probably name those who pepper your life most often. Now if those people made it known that they're fisherman or actors or really into painting or programming or etc. Then the next time someone asks "Hey you know of any good programmers? You know of anyone interested in painting? You know...etc"; you'll be able to say yeah I know a guy, he washes my car every other week. It works out for you(because you recommended a person) and it works out for the other person because they get a shot at doing something they love.
James Garner allowed himself to seep into the consciousness of as many people as he could so they'd associated him with what he loved; smart move.
A corollary may be that the more people that know what you love, the more you become a person who loves that thing; both personally(mentally associating yourself as an actor/writer/programmer/etc) and professionally("Yeah, James he's an actor. Ben wants to be a painter. Sheila is trying to be a cartoonist").
There's this TED talk on "manufactured happiness", where they talk about people who experienced devastating opportunity losses and considered themselves happier because of it. It then talks about the concept of the hedonic treadmill, how no matter what happens good or bad in a person's life (barring traumatic experiences that cause mental disorders), a person will, over time, return to a baseline happiness level. This is shown to be the case with people that have won the lottery, and with amputees.
The article shows how people that consider themselves lucky are empirically more observant, more focused, and more grateful. The article also explores the possibility that people considering themselves lucky could cause those individuals to be given more opportunities. For me, the answer is an obvious yes: The Secret is bullshit, but exuding a positive, loving, grateful vibe to those around you, even in the face of personal hardship, causes more good things to come your way, simply because people notice you more and want to be around you.
"Wiseman also found lucky people go out of there way to try new things and meet new people."
You need to factor in looks as well. No doubt a good looking man or woman has an easier time getting people to like them (both men and women). And that helps a great deal with luck. Not insurmountable by any means. But a big plus. I'm not talking about looks landing you a job (or an agent approaching you) but just looks being a way to make more people want to hang with you or help you or invite you to a party where you meet others (could say the same thing about being funny or any number of qualities that people differ on).
Example: I helped a woman with some business things that I met in a Starbucks. She was attractive. I didn't do it to "score" with her (she was married and much younger not saying I wouldn't have wanted to of course) but simply because she was pleasant to look at and seemed approachable. And it made me feel good to be around her. I can't say that I would have been so nice if she were not as attractive as she was. Or older.
I guess the point is that looking at the .01% of successful people and ignoring all others who didn't succeed will give you a very biased view of what's necessary to succeed.
No one lives in a bubble.
NPR has this segment where they say there were only about 1000 people in the world who were in a position to start Microsoft like Gates was. He's very lucky in be in that 1000. But of those 1000 only 2 founded Microsoft. The rest didn't want or bother or care or see it.
Almost in the same way that I would imagine teenage girls are obsessed with why some girls are popular and they aren't.
Vacuous rhetoric is a waste of everyone's time.
If you don't examine the failures then you can't determine if this is the case, and you might fall foul to the logical error of survivorship bias, as has already been mentioned.
edit: changed "an important role" to "a role", given that lack of a "clean" distinction could be of any magnitude.
If you for some reason want to get into a guild protected by a scouting system, then your priorities should be a) identifying what the scouts are looking for and getting good at it and b) getting in front of as many scouts as possible as often as possible.
There exist many opportunities which HNers want which resemble "a guild protected by a scouting system" if you squint at them, by the way.
In other words, the more chances you take the luckier you get. Life is a numbers game.
Hey, is there anyone here who was born in a first world country, grew up speaking the world's pre-eminent language, was born to parents in the richest 1% of the world population, grew up eating an ample supply of extremely nutritious food, and received a first-rate education while still a child? Anyone here like that?
It's a weighted random number generator. Some people make their own luck, and some have luck thrust upon them. Some people work hard and never get lucky.
Obligatory XKCD applies here too: http://xkcd.com/904
Chasing girls is a great example. The guy I've known who has been with the most girls has also been turned down more than anyone I know...
Most individuals aren't entrepreneurs, most are content to work for someone else on a hamster wheel and blame their lot in life for their lack of success.
So I have no doubt people who grew up wealthy or at least well-off are more successful, since their parents taught and showed them that success is possible.
If you grew up in a household where your parents ran the rat race and told you that success is to get a degree and run the rat race, odds are that's what you've done...
I am not convinced you are wrong. However, I am also far from convinced you are right. There is a lot of faith in "work hard and you can become rich." Especially if you are trying to imply this can get you "multiple billions of dollars."
Now, I personally think "rich" begins well before "multiple billions." I also don't think the world is split between entrepreneurs and people content to work for someone else on a hamster wheel. Truth is, as in many things, it is much more complicated.
So, yeah, do you have any good links to the numbers you are referring to?
I'd guess it's harder to poll millionaires since most don't own enough of a public company for it to be reported.
Regardless, stats do a poor job of presenting possibility, and my guess would be most poor stay poor, if for no other reason than a defeatist attitude they inherited...
More interestingly, how would you reconcile it with the core hypothesis of this article. That is, that people can create their own luck.
Also, many of the numbers in those articles are... interesting. To call Bill Gates a "self made" individual is rather... cute. He is far from a poor family. Pretty much everyone they have that is a "self made" rich person came from "upper middle class" families. (The articles words.)
This is concerning, as a large part of the problem that many fear in this nation is precisely how far the gap has grown between "merely middle class" and "upper middle." Consider, the vast majority of the "self made" rich people it lists are people that had early access to technology. Something that was decidedly situational related. Sheer numbers wise, it is on the level of winning the lottery.
But, there is an element of random chance that exists outside our control and always will. This is what I call real luck and there isn't any use in trying to explain "why" because there is no "why" that we can understand. It's just a flip of the dice from our perspective. These kind of articles should really differentiate and stop lumping behavior in with luck. They aren't the same.
Certainly. But - statistically speaking - this would affect everyone the same way, positively or negatively. You're talking about chance, not luck as a property or attribute that someone can have more of than someone else. It might seem that way, depending on your sample size, but that's not really how it works.
Just for fun I looked the word up. It turns out that either definition can apply.
I just take exception to the idea that everything is in our control. It isn't. Some events our out of control and often we don't even see what's coming.
Considering this is a crucial step in the thesis, I would like to see some evidence that this correlation (between a miserable childhood and lack of anxiety in adulthood) actually exists. It might sound rational to look back over your life, realize that the worst parts are probably over, and thus not worry about the present or future, but I highly doubt this is how most people actually behave.
Typically childhood trauma like what the article mentions is much more likely to lead to mental issues (usually something like anxiety + depression) in adulthood.
So yeah, take that one with a grain of salt. It was a silver lining for this guy that he had such a horrible childhood but that is a dangerous part of the thesis to not mention as being very abnormal.
But it was to show how relaxed James was, and it also seemed to stem from how he interpreted the terrible things that happened to him. I thought those stories could help some of us realize that if we could re-interpret some of the bad things that have happened to us the way James has, we could probably become more observant too, and hence spot more opportunities.
Also, Malcolm Gladwell has some interesting bits in his latest book, David and Goliath, about how childhood trouble like dyslexia can turn into opportunities. I'm going to butcher the research if I try and bring it up now, but there's some neat bits there if you haven't read them.
Good and bad things happen to all people. When a good thing happens, you can recognize the opportunity and seize it, or you can ignore it. The article mentions attributes this to attentiveness, and that is surely part of it. I also tend to attribute it to a mixture of intelligence and fortitude. If a person is a go-getter and is intelligent, he will make more out of fortunate situations than their counterparts. On the other hand, when bad things happen, "lucky" people tend not to fixate on them and work on forgetting them.
If you agree with me at this point, the next part is just a numbers game. If you are the type of person who always takes the same route to work, always eats at the same restaurant, goes to the same part, and vacations in the same spots, your chances of anything (good or bad) happening to you are limited. If you do diversify, take new roads, discover new places, and meet new people, you increase the number of things happening.
So in general, people who are positive, go-getters, and like to vary their routines and people they interact with will be considered luckier than the rest.
And the best book IMO is by Michael J. Mauboussin, "The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Sports, Business, and Investing" - http://www.amazon.com/Success-Equation-Untangling-Business-I...
Way better than Nassim Nicholas Taleb's work, he's got his head up his ass way too much and makes too many hyperbolic remarks.
Everything like looks, basic intelligence, rhythm, musical ability, sportsmanship are
distributed among people according to a (mostly) uniform distribution.
I would believe you can say the samething about luck.
Now don't get the wrong idea that I advocate people to be bums waiting for the "luck" to happen to them. Not everybody who works their ass off(while being smart) is successful.
We can quote a lot of examples from history to see this isn't the case.
And then there are people like Kardashians, who got to where they are, by what?
I would agree with you that in some vague sense, we might be able to think of a "luck distribution" with similar properties; however, it's not obvious what exactly that would mean in terms of what is actually being measured. Wealth? Happiness? Recognition in their field? All of these in the short run? The long run?
We have to come up with an accurate definition of luck, and
a way to quantify it. It is a function of work put in and
the results obtained. And we have to define how to quantify work.
Another way is to think of world with no luck in it. How would
it affect us? Would the world be the same?
Has anyone had to answer this question during an interview? Do you think it's a question worth asking?
Of course, I've not measured just how observant I am against anyone else, and it's just a hunch, so I could be talking shit. Enjoyed the article!
With regards to coding it means that the lazy part of me wants to write as little code as possible, but the particular part of me is pedantic about making it both elegant and neat (I have a thing about consistent coding styles).
I am also very forgetful (terrible remembering birthdays for example) but more recently I've come to notice that I'm forgetful with regards to things that, in all honesty, I don't find important to me. Hence others are disappointed when I forget their birthdays bit it doesn't really bother me if I don't celebrate mine.