There is a common misconception amongst entrepreneurs that success is given to those who work for it the hardest. But in this article, I will tell you why that is not entirely true and why it can be harmful to believe.

Is success a result of luck or hard work?

Anton Keller, CEO of Nued
September 13, 2021

There is a common misconception amongst entrepreneurs that success is given to those who work for it the hardest. But in this article, I will tell you why that is not entirely true and why it can be harmful to believe.

What is success?

The accomplishment of an aim or purpose. There is no objective goal to achieving success, it all depends on you. So why are we arguing on how to achieve it? Well despite the definition of the word, people seem to view it as some invisible line either measured in recognition or financials. If you are an Influencer with 100,000 subscribers you are deemed as successful and if your net worth is above 10 million you are also successful. But what about 9 million or maybe 3 million? Where is the line and who draws it? Well... no one or maybe everyone. It is simply a gut feeling. So with that said, we know understand how unscientific success in common tongue actually is. For the sake of this article we will be talking about the success of large financial aims.

Hard work or smart work?

The discussion of hard work vs smart work has been around for almost as long as the chicken and the egg (not really). Some people say hard work is the only way to achieve success and others say hard work doesn't matter if it is not smart. They are both wrong... and right. Amongst successful entrepreneurs it is well known that you are the writer of your own story. With hard work and determination you can achieve whatever you want. Which is also true for them. However, many of them fail to mention what other factors play a role in it. Because hard work it self will not help you if your hard work means spending 16 hours a day on cleaning your office. And according to me, this is where smart work comes along. Choosing the right activities and knowing what the right activities are to then execute the hard work on that. To understand this you could also look at it as the 80/20 rule, or otherwise known as the Pareto principle, an imbalance in the system where in this case 20% of all activities in the business generates 80% of the result. So doing your smart work to figure out what that 20% is and then putting hard work into it should be a recipe for success.

No.

The factor of luck.

What we often fail to consider while talking about success is what part luck plays in it. Up until a couple of weeks ago I personally did not believe in such things as luck. However now I understand the big part luck plays in our success. BUT I have found a hack. Years ago when I was still studying natural science, I had a maths class where we talked about probability. Now here is the funny thing about probability, imagine you have a regular dice and your target is to get a six. If you roll the dice once, you know it is a 1/6 chance you get it. But you also know out of experience that sometimes you are just unlucky and don't get a single six in an entire game of Yatzy. You ALSO know that the more times you roll the dice the closer you get to that six. Meaning... SUCCESS. So by thinking of success in the same way we now understand that the more actions we take the better odds we get. So by working hard you are essentially creating your own luck and the harder you work the "luckier" you get.

What about the things that we can not control? What impact does our surrounding have on the outcome of our actions? The answer is A LOT. Unfortunately, it is not recognized due to the simple fact that we only know what we know. It is the same principle to why we tend to overestimate our own efforts and underestimate others. We remember all the details of our own work and actions but can only briefly comprehend others. Here are some facts to better understand this concept:

  • Entrepreneurs of color are 30% more likely to experience a lack of capital and relevant networks.
  • People born in a region with more diversity are more likely to become entrepreneurs.
  • Females are less likely to have a managerial position than men.

These are all factors that we cannot change but are still subjects to, which is very interesting because this for example tells us it is harder to achieve success if you are a woman rather than a man. Let me give you an example:

Two men with the same amount of experience, age and overall health wants to become Olympic skiers. One lives in Åre, Sweden only 30 minutes away from a perfect ski slope. The other one lives in Luxor, Egypt where snow is seen very rarely and a ski slope nothing to even think about. It is indeed possible for both men to become successful skiers, however one will have to work much harder than the other to achieve it and I don't believe I have to tell you which one.

This was of course an extreme example but still a relevant one because it gives perspective to the reality of it. In other cases the difference might not be as clear but let me reassure you that it is still there. It varies in size and transparency but is always there.

Conclusion.

It is important to recognize and understand the role luck plays in success as explained in this article but also to know that you are still the writer of you own story because the more action you take the more likely you are to succeed. I also believe it is very important to not only understand the situation but also to be very grateful for the journey and for the luck that you are actually given. AND most importantly help those who are not as fortunate to give them more equal opportunities.

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