I saw a thread on Reddit asking “How much of your success is luck?” and thought it was a great question. I wrote a short answer on Reddit, but wanted to expand on my answer a little.

The tldr version: Luck doesn’t exist. 

I can hear sighs of family, friends, and colleagues now. If you’re one of them, you can stop reading now… there’s nothing new below. (I’ve said some variation of “there’s no such thing as luck” literally thousands of times in my life.)

Luck, according to Noah Webster’s dictionary, is defined as a purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favorably or unfavorably for an individual, group or cause.

An uncontrollable force that controls our destiny? Unless you believe in the luck fairy, maybe we should look at other definitions for luck.

Google defines luck as success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

That sounds more like a reasonable definition. The key word here is apparently. Chance definitely plays a part in everyone’s lives, but there is virtually no way (statistically speaking) that repeated, random chance will bring you long term success.

Real success takes time. It takes hard work. It takes learning from failure (and not making those mistakes again). And it takes a lot of experience – Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours comes to mind.

A lot of people like to call others “lucky” because it would mean that they, too, could wake up one day and be successful. Ah, not so…. you might get “lucky” and win the lottery, but luck won’t make you successful.

Photo by Umberto Salvagnin (Flickr)