Patti (whipartist) wrote,

Luck and responsibility

Another in my series of ramblings about personal responsibility.

Everybody knows people who appear to be either very lucky or very unlucky. For some people, things always just seem to go their way. Others live in a world where everything always seems to go wrong, and their lives are constant chaos. Here are some examples from my life:

  • A poker player of my acquaintance had the worst luck. One one trip to Vegas, he got a flat tire, blew a radiator, and had his wallet stolen.
  • A few weeks ago, someone said to me (in reference to the Ducati), "You have the best luck. Things just fall into your lap."
  • A friend of mine is always meeting cool people and making new friends, but I suck at doing so.

    The first guy has bad luck. In the second example, I'm very lucky. In the third example, my friend is lucky that he meets so many cool people, and I'm unlucky that I don't. Right?

    Let's take it one at a time. The poker player? Horrible things were always happening to him, and it was a running joke among his friends and acquaintances. Let's look a little closer... he didn't do much to maintain his car, which make it increasingly likely to fall apart on a road trip, especially one through the desert southwest in the heat of summer. Getting his wallet stolen was largely a function of walking alone in a dark alley in downtown Las Vegas at 3 a.m., and not paying attention to his surroundings. Yes, it was absolutely a horrible thing to happen to him, but he created a situation where the chances of being robbed were much higher than normal.

    The motorcycle? I guess it looks like I got lucky with that. In reality, what happened was that I have friends who own a motorcycle shop that buys and sells lots of used bikes. A while ago, I let them know that I was looking for an old motorcycle that met a specific set of criteria. That wasn't the first bike they'd found for me-- the other two turned out to be in horrible condition, too expensive, or just not right. I just happened to wander by the shop a few minutes after the Ducati arrived, but even if I hadn't I'm sure my phone would have been ringing shortly.

    And my friend who is always meeting new people? He goes to lots of events, often by himself. He seeks out others at these events and strikes up conversations with them. I don't think he's naturally more social than I am; he just works harder at it.

    To a large extent, we make our own luck. If things always just seem to go someone's way, keep an eye on them and you'll no doubt see them working to make that happen. When things always seem to go wrong for someone, there's a good chance that the victim probably isn't putting much effort into holding his life together.

    A friend just reminded me of this great Thomas Jefferson quote:

    I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

    How true that is.
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