Good luck or good pluck?

Published 1911, The Book of Good Cheer (p. 14) says …

… “What we call Luck

Is simply Pluck,

And doing things over and over;

Courage and will,

Perseverance and skill,—

Are the four leaves of Luck’s clover.”

Along these lines, have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers?, Below is a review posted on the Barnes & Noble website that confirms what the anonymous author of the quote above thought.

“I’ve always been curious about the archetypal ‘overachieving’ type; the person with a 4.0 GPA, supplemented with a vast resume of extracurriculars and seemingly guaranteed placement at some selective, elite institution. They seem to effortlessly master their studies, creating a very bothersome imposition in the back of my mind that made me feel inadequate. For awhile, I felt that there was something innate these certain individuals possessed, hardening my fatalistic perspective about the world and making me question my own self-worth.

Gladwell essentially put everything into perspective for me. People aren’t just born ‘with it.’ The typical stories describing the ascent to success by prominent individuals oftentimes, if not always, obscure the social, cultural, economic, institutional and fortuitous elements that allow that person to rise in the first place. This book, replete with credible substantiations, investigates the lives of many successful people, like Bill Gates and Joe Flom, and show how particular environmental factors and fortunate circumstances led to the realization of these individuals’ potential. The story of success is always more complex than the simple tales of ‘rags to riches.’ This book comprehensively examines not just individuals, but systems (like public education), and stereotypes (such as Asians being good at math) to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of what provides the proper foundation for high achievement.

Though, let me be clear: this book does *NOT* suggest that sheer hard work is somehow irrelevant, or weakly relevant (i.e. “it’s all luck”), in one’s pursuit of success. To the contrary, this book emphatically illustrates how crucial hard work is to the fulfillment of success. The book, however, indicates that hard work goes hand-in-hand with opportunity. Your intellectual potential might have you be a great computer programmer, mathematician, or businessman. Unfortunately, it might very well go to waste without the resources needed to foster the development of such potential. There’s no point in having a warehouse of hardy seeds without the fertile soil to plant them in.

This book has inspired me to push onward with my studies, to work incredibly hard towards mastery of subject material and to seek opportunity and claim it upon arrival. Highly recommended book!”

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