Is It Better To Be Talented Or Lucky?

Sunset at Huntington Beach, California.

Sunset at Huntington Beach, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several friends and I have an ongoing discussion about whether it is better to be lucky or talented. If memory serves the conversation began on a summer night on a beach in Los Angeles.

We were a group of college students who at best had a collective age of 21 or so. Our real world experience was quite limited so we all expected to get a degree, get a job and then ride off into the sunset of bliss and happiness.

Maybe it was ego speaking but I remember shaking my head at the idea of giving lucky the thumbs up. I voted for talent. It was logical and seemed to provide the strongest foundation for success. I didn’t want to rely on something that I couldn’t count on. Luck could come and go, but talent was forever.

Ask me the same question now and without hesitation I’ll say that I would take luck. Why shouldn’t I pick lucky? Lucky might mean that I just happen to take an equity stake in the next Apple Computer or Microsoft.

Luck might yield a winning lottery ticket that is worth enough for me to retire. That is not such a bad thing.  My father retired at 58. I remember the day he looked at me, smiled and challenged me to beat that.

At 43 it would be kind of fun to smile back and let him know that I beat him by 15 years. Excuse me for a moment while I look off into space and imagine having enough cash to buy the huge house with the library, incredible backyard and private jet.

Of course if I had that kind of cash I would probably have to help some of my friends retire. Not just because it would be cool to do it, but I would need people to hang out with. What would I do with all that free time.

Reality Doesn’t Always Bite

Now that we have finished walking through fragments of my fantasy let’s add another element into this conversation. Call it tenacity or determination. Call it the willingness to work hard and to keep walking even when your journey is shrouded in fog.

That is something that I respect and appreciate. It resonates with me because it is accessible. It is something that anyone can do/have. If anything it is based upon a choice. When things get rough you can fight or surrender. It is up to you.

I stumbled onto a video at Mitch Joel’s blog today that caught my eye. It is relevant to the discussion and helps to expand the discussion here.

What do you think?

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6 Comments

  1. Lori Gosselin July 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Hi Josh,
    I think I would have made the same choices you made – then and now. We know you really do need both, talent and luck or does talent make luck? How about this; I choose to be lucky enough to be talented. One way or another, I’m going to make it happen! What? Anything I want to make happen. 🙂
    That’s a great story in the video Josh! Say yes!
    Lori

    • Josh July 25, 2012 at 11:45 am

      I thought that video was outstanding. I really loved it. It was real and easy to identify with. I like your idea to be lucky enough to be talented. I can support that.

  2. Nina July 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Agree–all of those factors help, perhaps hard work more than anything else.

    • Josh July 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Hard work makes a huge difference. I see that as the “secret” ingredient that binds everything together. Luck can get you a long way down the road, but hard work is what keeps you there.

  3. Josh July 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I agree. Ideally you are able to blend the two. It makes a significant difference.

  4. Gina July 21, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I agree it takes all four. Like you, when younger (no jokes), I would have definitely said talent and tenacity.

    Now, I’ve seen luck but mostly connections make the difference in a lot I’d situations. Still, if you can’t back up that connection with talent, you won’t last.

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