Skip to comments."Luck"
Posted on 09/17/2009 8:26:17 AM PDT by cpurick
Suppose Bill Gates had an identical twin brother, Walter. And suppose that Bill and Walter had identical interests, shared identical experiences. Suppose they were even identically driven.
Now suppose that one day many years ago, something split the brothers. Perhaps they were waiting together at a bus stop, and a nearly-full bus pulled up. Only one brother can get on the bus, and the other must wait for the next bus.
And let's suppose that this moment of separation had occurred at a key point in time, and that as a result it was Walter, instead of Bill, who went on to be the Gates who founded Microsoft.
Jonathan Chait devotes several paragraphs of his Ayn Rand "book report" to the role luck plays in achievement. If Chait read my supposition about the Gates brothers, he could hold it up as evidence that luck made Bill Gates, and that without luck we would be saying someone else's name -- in this case, Walter's -- when we mention the founder of the world's premier software company.
But Chait's explanation never explores a critical question, one that really leaves his "conclusion" invalid: What would have happened to Bill Gates?
(Excerpt) Read more at whoisjohngalt.com ...
False premise. No two people, even close relatives, will ever have completely identical interests nor will the ever share identical experiences.
I am reminded of Dick Gebhardts “Winner of life’s lottery” asenine comment.
He would have gone on to found Apple?
Windoze would probably work quite a bit better.
I think the author is at least to some extent making a straw man argument.
I don’t know anyone who claims that Bill Gates would have been a failure in life had he not been successful in taking MS to dominance in the software world. The truth is that a number of factors, most of them involving just luck, made the difference between his being one of millions of highly successful people and his becoming the richest man in the world.
Claiming that all success is due to personal prowess and hard work is just as dumb as claiming that it’s all due to luck. Both are pretty obviously involved.
I suppose you could say there was an element of "luck" and wonder what would have happened had Colt never gone aboard a ship, but it was still Colt's genius that allowed an existing technology to be adapted to solve or overcome an existing deficiency in firearms designs.
They are successful because they take advantage of whatever luck comes their way. The vast majority of people wouldn't know what to do with Lady Luck if she landed in their laps..
Preparation + Opportunity = Luck
I know I am a racist, but. . . .
I agree that even identical twins don’t think exactly alike, although they do tend to be very much alike in very many things.
If the one got “lucky” by arbitrarily being in the right place at the right time, then I would expect that the other one would find his own “luck” even if it meant he had to work a bit harder to become successful in some other related but different endeavor.
I think that there are BOTH positive and negative opportunities as much as DAILY in each of our lives, and it all boils down to choices and consequences.
I remember a professor asked my class one time, “Do you know when you became a xxxxx?”
We all chuckled a bit because we were just starting our first classes in that direction, and had not “become” ANYTHING yet, or so we thought.
He rightly corrected us by saying, “You became a xxxxx when you decided that you would do whatever it takes to get there, and that nothing else would satisfy you!”
Of course, he was right.
As the old saying goes -— Life is 1% INSPIRATION, and 99% PERSPIRATION.
It’s that PERSPIRATION part that separates the LUCKY from the UNLUCKY, to my way of thinking!!!
Dumb pretense. Good Article though
You make your own luck
You can’t have false premises in a supposition. It’s a hypothetical, a ceteris paribus exploration of whether Bill Gates would have been a failure if someone else had gotten some of his “luck.”
There is another way of looking at the right place/right time equation. Someone conceptualized the workings of the ship. Where did their idea originate? At some point the idea had to have come from something observed in the natural world and available to virtually everybody to observe and use as creative fodder. In a sense the world offers what the mind is prepared to find. (Like when you buy a new car and suddenly that kind of car seems to be everywhere because now your mind is attuned to seeing it). So the possibility is that some other observation would have led Colt to the same end solution or maybe a different solution once he was geared to “see” it.
Thanks for expounding on (and IMHO, reinforcing) my premise. Samuel Goldwyn was quoted as saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Certainly, one must make efforts, be willing to take chances/risks, and strive to get ahead. Having said that, we are all blessed with unique talents, gifts and indeed flaws. If that is what one means by “luck” then so be it. I think truly successful, self-made people have made serious, honest self-assessments, and in knowing exactly what “capital” they have to work with can use it to the greatest advantage. People who inflate, or undervalue their talents will never aspire to what they otherwise might have.
Even so, this is a classic straw man argument, also it assumes that if the "pretend brother" invented Microsoft, then Bill would be a "Disaffected Blue-Collar Grunt", or somesuch.
Why couldn't BOTH brothers be successful? One reinvent software, and one reinvent hardware? Or both of them team up to quadruple MS in size? Or some other premise?
Yep, success stems from being in the right place at the right time...
AND being smart enough to recognize that you're IN the right place at the right time.
AND being disciplined enough to work to take advantage of the opportunity.
Luck plays a role, but largely, you make your own luck.
Asimov wrote a short story called “If”, in which a man sitting on a train with his wife was enabled to see what would have happened if one little incident that led to meeting his wife had been different. In the story, the man would have married someone else, taken a different job, etc. At the end, he gets to see where he would have been at that exact moment: sitting on the same train he was on with his original wife. The point was that some things will happen with or without luck. I think the same is true for Bill Gates. If Walter Gates had made DOS and Windows first, Bill would have made something else and still ended up a billionaire.
As a follow on. I’m hoping that as terrible as Obama will be for the country, he serves the full four years without impeachment or some other interruption. The 2008 election proved that we needed to learn what socialism is like or we’ll just vote for another socialist in 2012 or 2016. Even without Obama, we would still have elected a socialist. The $9T extra debt he’s going to leave for our children is a horribly cruel burden to leave them, but it’s worth the price if it protects them from something even worse - a permanent socialist government.
“also it assumes that if the “pretend brother” invented Microsoft, then Bill would be a “Disaffected Blue-Collar Grunt””
Actually, the article ridicules the notion that a man like Bill Gates would be reduced to a grunt just because someone else had gotten the luck that day. The point is that Gates would have simply gone on to succeed at the next opportunity, and liberals would likely still be calling him “lucky.”
I can’t recall who wrote it, but someone opined something along the lines of, “Take all of the money from the top 10 percent of our wealthiest citizens. Every last penny. Put them on welfare. Give all of their money to the bottom 10 percent of our poorest citizens. Within five years, the bottom %10 will again be poor and the top %10 will be well on their way to being wealthy again.”
I’d say that is a reasonable expectation.
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