Thursday, March 12, 2015

The serendipity that goes into being self-made

Fred Wilson wrote a blog post a few weeks back titled, “Finding Your Passion”.
In the middle of it he dropped this paragraph:
“We were visiting our families who lived in DC at the time and at the dinner table one night the Gotham Gal’s mom Judy who is no longer with us said to me “Get an MBA from one of the top schools. With an engineering degree from MIT and and MBA from a top school, you can write your ticket”. I liked the sound of that phrase “write your ticket” so I took her advice.”
I guess this statement needed to sink in for a while, but it has resurfaced in my stream of consciousness and it’s been in my mind for the last few days now.
Since the time when I was about 15 years old — when I first read the book “Think and Grow Rich” and a host of other similar works — I’ve held the belief that you make your own way in this world and you don’t need to depend on luck.
And yet, *every* successful individual I’ve personally interviewed (or have been listening to someone else interviewing them), has said that luck had played a significant role in their success.
And if I’m not mistaken, this is a essentially the point made by Malcolm Gladwell in his book titled, “Outliers.”
To counterbalance this nicely, there is also the well documented fact that perseverance eventually pays off.
It would appear, then, that there’s a real chance that someone could strive for their most important life goal and never achieve it, while someone else who is luckier will make it.
So what to make of this?
Here’s how I’m going about it personally.
1) I still personally maintain that luck is “preparation meets opportunity”; and so I keep on “preparing” myself, so to speak.
2) I’m not giving up on my goals, my aspirations of grandeur, whatever you call it..
3) I also appreciate the reality that I might not achieve them. And I’m okay with that.
4) I appreciate that most of the happiness is derived from the process and not from the end goal. And so I’m making sure to stop long enough to recognize pleasure whenever I’m experiencing it along the way, because it’s possible that it’s largely all I will have gotten out of the entire experience :-)
5) I count my blessings every single day, and appreciate what I already have.
6) I don’t neglect major aspects of my life while I try to reach my goal. My relationship to my wife is important to me. I make sure to keep the various parts of my life in balance and in alignment with my goals.
The above keeps me functional by remaining hopeful and enthusiastic while I’m persevering.


  1. I was sort of talking about the idealism vs. reality thing with a friend last night. As I've gotten older I tend to have more empathy for a wider range of people, while personally working on a smaller area of what I can actually get done.

    For me, that evolution has involved being less hung up on facts or universals, and focused more on ways of being. Which is interesting, because at 31 I expected to become less flexible over time, and not more. I don't know if I'm bound for some massive success financially, but also maybe it doesn't matter as long as I get to work on meaningful things = )

  2. A wider ability to be over time, that's great, and it is the opposite direction that many people take indeed. More power to you for being on a spiritual journey of sort. Nice to hear from you Joe.