Luck is a key ingredient to success in life

3 months ago
71 in freedom
The idea of the certified genius—which usually means someone who is  in the 98th percentile on IQ tests—evokes stereotypes of business  tycoons and unconquerable chess players riding the trajectory of their  inevitable success. They are the World's Smartest People and we've been  conditioned to expect great things from them.  But data  collected from high IQ societies—such as Mensa and Triple Nine —shows  something quite different: People with exceptionally high IQs come from  and fall into all walks of life, and are just as likely to be found  managing a restaurant as they are theorizing about the early universe.  


The wealth we are born with plays a role in our future financial success



Many people in this world are born with wealth. They are born with a great capacity for learning. They are born with a great physical beauty. They are born with a set of personality traits which are valued by society (hard working, persistent). But what has to be remembered is none of us got to choose what we were born with.

Just as people do not get to choose their race, their gender, they do not get to choose their personality traits. Some people in this world are born with the trait to make them try to out work everyone around them in a competitive way. Some people are born with an ability to have photographic memory, or music talent, or athletic talent, or to just be very smart or athletic.

Any of these traits can be considered forms of wealth. Society determines which forms of wealth have greater value within the context of the culture and which have lesser value. Athletes have great value in society, but so do scientists, and in general it all starts with what people are born with and develops from there.

Poorer people often have high IQs, work ethic, physical beauty, athletic gifts, yet still fail to achieve financial success


By talking to various people a lot can be learned and it can be seen that many of the homeless people, or people who live in the slums,  have wealth. Why is it that people born under difficult conditions with natural wealth fail to be able to achieve financial success? The opportunity to translate natural wealth into financial success is what is scarce, not the wealth. Wealth is widely distributed in the form of natural wealth, in the form of traits like beauty, intelligence, athleticism, and work ethic. Yet the vast majority of people born into difficult circumstances fail to overcome circumstances even with talent, hard work, beauty, intelligence.


Circumstances are determined by luck and by social biases in society


A person does not get to choose the conditions of their birth. Even a person born with good genetics, with natural gifts, can be born into a broken home, a single parent home, have parents who are drug addicts, have the odds stacked against them at birth. And of course there is the possibility that a person can have some really good traits but be missing a critical trait required by society. For instance a person can be born with the capacity to be a genius but naturally be unambitious, dispassionate, low will power and motivation. The amount of push a person has is determined by dopamine levels and having just the right amount is possibly luck, possibly childhood nutrition, but it's not a result of nurture.  For the most part, you don't get to choose the life you are born into but can only make the best of whatever that is.


Why many smart people don't do well in structured environments like the academic and or corporate environment



In addition you can have a person born with natural ability to learn but who has ADD, and once again it is possible that intelligence doesn't necessarily mean academic performance. Intelligence could express itself in the form of high scores they got in video games, or strategy games like chess, yet they might to terrible in school and in regular life. This is because society has a certain kind of personality type it favors, as does academia, and not everyone is a fit for it even if intelligent.


Why some traits are more valued than others by the economy


The economy values traits in humans which it can monetize easily. This doesn't mean these traits are actually valuable to society but it does mean these traits are easily monetized. The trait to be hard working was rewarded because for a long time factory work required it, the type of jobs being created required that kind of work ethic, and for many generations farmers, coal miners and others required it. As the economy changes the traits which go in fashion, which are in demand, also continue to change. Certain kinds of athletes might be more popular in different centuries as different sports gain or lose popularity. Having natural wealth is great but being able to monetize that wealth seems to be part of the key to success.

Conclusion


Our births were a roll of the dice. We either were born in the right place, to the right family, with the right traits, allowing us to become like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or we weren't so lucky. The vast majority of people born today statistically speaking aren't going to be so lucky and have an uphill battle to survive going into the future. The people who do have gifts which is perhaps most of us posting here on Steemit, have to recognize that even if we weren't as lucky as Bill Gates and some others, we are still very lucky to be born when we were. And of course, with the right technology, treatments/enhancements, (cyborgization) many people who weren't born with certain gifts will be able to develop gifts. These technologies give us extrasensory capacity beyond what nature's lottery provides, and we can use that.

Wealth inequality (natural inequality) will always exist because it exists in nature. What doesn't have to exist is the inequality of opportunity. The fact that luck determines so much is exactly why it is important to not become elitist. Any trait or gifts a person is born with by luck is no different than a person born with a financial inheritance by luck. The gifted, the smart, the beautiful, the athletic, the hard working, all have to recognize that these are gifts granted by luck and remember not to look down on others who do not have the same exact gifts or same number of gifts.

References

1. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/what-do-geniuses-do-for-work
2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110094415.htm







Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
Join our amazing community to comment and reward others.
Sort Order:  trending
40
  ·  3 months ago

Great post, Dana!

I was born with natural wealth, but also into a broken household, drug addict parents, constantly moving from place to place, around a lot of bad people and negative influences, but somehow I managed to stay away from all of it. My father was in prison from the age of about 4 to 11, so I grew up going to prison visits, never thinking much of it. It seemed semi normal going to visit my father every other weekend.

As a 26 year old man, I've managed to not follow in my father's footsteps of being an abusive alcoholic, a pill addict, a crackhead and a thief. I didn't follow my in my mother's foot steps either -- she shoots up pills, has been a crackhead for the majority of my life, and also a drug addict.

I don't know what has kept me from following in their foot steps, but I've managed to never smoke, never drink, never do any drugs, and have gone in the complete opposite direction of their negative influence. It really is fascinating to me that I managed to stay sober in such a toxic environment, and I would love to know what determines whether a child of drug addicts follows suit, or breaks the cycle.

66
  ·  3 months ago

Interesting write-up.

As someone with a slightly above average IQ who is technically poor, I can look back on the events of my own life and see where forks could have gone in an advantageous way, but didn't because of forces out of my control, and I ended up where I am: struggling as a poor entrepreneur trying to claw out of a hole.

At 35, I am finally making video games independently and making money doing it. This is something I had started doing at 14, but my parents were unable to recognize what was in front of them. I was told to "get a job so you can get a better job", which was the worst advice of my life.

I put game development to the side and got my first job at 14 and had been working for the man ever since up until 5 months ago. And where did it get me? Well, I have a worse net-worth now because of debt than I did at 14 before I even had any money!

The advice I was given as a kid was terrible but well-meaning. I knew it was bad, so I rebelled against it, but didn't have any guidance or reference point to know what to rebel towards.

Sometimes parents don't know what the right move is and they make the wrong decisions for their kids. My parent's didn't know in the mid-90s that the video games industry would surpass film in the not-too-distant-future: they thought I should become a workman or a welder, because that's all that they knew.

It's hard to blame them for not understanding innovation or recognizing talent -- few people can do that -- so I put the onus of my life onto my own shoulders now, and I try to recognize the skills that my own son and other young people have, and try to be a voice of self-empowerment and entrepreneurship in their lives so they know that there is another way that they can go -- that they can set their own path in life, and this path is fueled by the coals of natural talent in the engine of passion.

Thanks for the post, and allowing me to open up this part of my psyche.

Upvoted :)

@shayne

25
  ·  3 months ago

Life in itself is not fair. Not all of us can be born with a silver spoon in our mouth. We just have to make the best out of the small opportunities that come our away

·
71
  ·  3 months ago

Even people born with a "silver spoon" might not have any natural wealth. It is possible to be born financially rich but be indolent, unattractive, not smart, nonathletic. It's possible for people to be born financially rich but have various problems, whether physical or mental.

For this reason, I don't assume every rich person is wealthy. A lot of rich people don't have much natural wealth at all and would not be able to survive if they were suddenly thrown into the harsh slums or inner city. A lot of rich people could never make it into Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, even with all the best tutors in the world!

What is the point? The point is that a lot of people who are financially poor are extremely naturally wealthy and a lot of people who are financially rich have very little natural wealth. Society in it's bias treats the person born into financial wealth better as if somehow they deserve it while at the same time demonizing people born without much natural wealth as if somehow they also deserve it.

So my point is, elitism should not be embraced by the truly wealthy. There are the noble poor who believe that they are superior to the untalented rich and there are the rich who think God likes them more because they have money. All of that is ideological elitism and not helpful.

70
  ·  3 months ago

The more I practice, the luckier I get.

~ Gary Player

Cg

·
71
  ·  3 months ago

How do you practice at life before you were born?

·
·
70
  ·  3 months ago

You clearly can't; and geography and accident of birth can and will hold back many in achieving their true potential. However "luck" is often used as an excuse for inaction. Or seen as some divine gift, given only to the few.

When in fact many people who are viewed as lucky are in fact bloody hard (and smart) workers.

I left the Gary Player quote on your post because Player was somebody who was always accused of being lucky. He made incredible low percentage shots an unusually high percentage of the time.

This was seen as lucky, instead of being seen as what it was; him religiously practicing those low percentage shots hours a day, days a week, weeks a month and months a year, until they were high percentage for him.

Perhaps I was somewhat glib; however as most of your readers are in the Western world, surrounded by opportunities those in the developing world would kill for; I felt my statement to be well placed. :-)

Cg

·
·
·
71
  ·  3 months ago

I think you miss my point. Western, eastern or any part of the world has risks and opportunities. My point is we aren't all born with the same risks and opportunities. Some people are born with more natural wealth than others and location of birth is only one factor and may not even be the most critical.

I would say what family you are born into has a greater influence than the location of birth. Born into the right family in any location on earth can provide opportunities but just being born in the right location to the wrong family doesn't help as much. The family you're born into is entirely luck, as is the location.

The ability to practice such as in a competition is a relevant point but who says you'll make the team? If you don't make the team then no amount of practice matters. If you do make the team then depending on natural talent you might have to practice more or less but this is assuming you made the team. I think you're saying ambition (hard work) combined with talent is better than just talent provided you make it on the team and I don't dispute that.

So when you're talking about people who have natural talent and enough luck to make the team (the opportunity to use their gifts) then you'd have a point that it's just about applying the gifts. My point is many people including in our country will never make the team, never be able to use their gifts, or if they do it's not necessarily in a way where they can get rich or have financial success. This means that access to opportunity is not equal from person to person which is ultimately my point. On the other hand natural talent is everywhere, in every country, and widely distributed, far more distributed than the opportunities.

·
·
·
·
70
  ·  3 months ago

I would say what family you are born into has a greater influence than the location of birth. Born into the right family in any location on earth can provide opportunities but just being born in the right location to the wrong family doesn't help as much.

This is only true from a fixed mindset point of view; as in "you get the cards your dealt with and that's it". Whereas I believe that whilst there are different starting points, progress does not have to be down to this myth of "natural talent".

Natural talent is the end product that we like to worship and glamorise. When in truth, natural talent is no more than somebody being intensely into something enough, to really practice and get good at it.

We look at someone like Michael Jordan, and laugh at those early coaches that cut him from various teams. Because we feel they should obviously have spotted his "natural talent".

However the fact is, Jordan and many of his ilk, inside and outside of the world of sport. Simply put a hell of a lot of effort and work into their craft.

You might say; "but yes, there are people who are better at some things than others."

To that I'd say; sure there are, but it's only the ones willing to go that extra mile and fail a few dozen times, who will ever "make it".

Cg

·
·
·
·
·
71
  ·  3 months ago

Natural talent is the end product that we like to worship and glamorise. When in truth, natural talent is no more than somebody being intensely into something enough, to really practice and get good at it.

And I guess we disagree on this point. Natural talent, you can lift weights all you want and you might never be the next Mike Tyson or Brock Lesnar without taking steroids. Why? Because the amount of muscle fibers you have is set at birth, and the amount of muscle you can hold on your frame is set genetically. People resort to using steroids to bypass this genetic limit but the fact is some people have a natural ability to put on muscle easily and that is an example of natural talent.

If you are born with the ability to have persistence, the genes to make you want to work hard, to give your brain the right amount of dopamine so you'll push and push, this too is a result of you winning the genetic lottery. There are inevitably people who have a more effective natural brain chemistry than yours, and people who have less effective, for the goal of being productive.

Take for example Bruce Lee? He worked extremely hard, and his exploits are legendary. He didn't get to his level of success from natural talent alone but also because he dedicated his life to applying it to martial arts, to acting, and in essence he had natural ability to hyper focus on a goal.

You can learn the right way to do something but the natural motivation to want to be the best at something is also genetic. It's not taught. That is my point. Yes it is true that at times in life you might not know yourself or you might have someone who told you to always try to be the best, but to be able to then push yourself every day for years, for decades, that's something you can't teach.

However the fact is, Jordan and many of his ilk, inside and outside of the world of sport. Simply put a hell of a lot of effort and work into their craft.

People like Michael Jordan, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, are some of the most competitive human beings in recorded history. These sorts of people always push themselves even if it's not necessarily healthy to do it because they put 100% of themselves into their craft. Nothing is wrong with this but let's not pretend like everyone can do this or that everyone has the necessary traits. There is likely a spectrum and some people have more of this quality than others but if we were to take the attitude that people with this quality deserve it then how is that any different from picking out any other genetic trait to highlight and say people with those traits deserve it?

·
·
·
·
70
  ·  3 months ago

I've replied here because of the end of tree problem

You can learn the right way to do something but the natural motivation to want to be the best at something is also genetic. It's not taught.

This is wrong; read Mindset by Dr Carol Dweck, afterwards there is no way you will agree with the above statement.

Cg

·
·
·
·
·
71
  ·  3 months ago

Again I don't believe it is taught. My understanding of neuroscience is that dopamine levels in the brain determine motivation, along with some other elements like testosterone which may influence competitiveness.

I don't think a person can simply learn to be motivated which is why people drink coffee, take cocaine, and other stuff. I'd like to be proven wrong and if you can show a scientific study indicating it can be learned I will consider that.

·
·
·
·
·
71
  ·  3 months ago

My opinion on the subject is only by knowing human limitations (your own and the limits of others) can you transcend them. I used the example of the body builder because this is something anyone can test for themselves. Anyone can lift weights in competition with another person and see which one has more natural talent to build muscle. This will show without a doubt that natural talent for building muscle exists and for this reason steroids were invented to allow people who don't have the natural talent to use a drug to achieve the results of people who do.

Now let's bring it back to "hard work" or "daily grind". This too benefits from talent and for this too there are products and drugs which can help people focus, help people work with less rest, help people to be motivated. In fact there is transcranial magnetic stimulation which has the exact effect to give anyone the instinct which comes to some people by nature.

Experiments have shown results where people have been treated for depression. Other experiments have shown by using these methods a person can feel like a psychopath for a brief period of time. This indicates that yes there is a natural talent because if there wasn't then these devices would offer no improvement.

  1. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/new-approach-to-depression/
  2. http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Psychopath-Makeover/135160/
·
·
66
  ·  3 months ago

Reincarnation :D

70
  ·  3 months ago

Hi Dana, I wanted to continue this really stimulating debate we're having, and I hit the dreaded 6 replies deep limit! :-)

Again I don't believe it is taught. My understanding of neuroscience is that dopamine levels in the brain determine motivation...

Well exactly; dopamine levels are not fixed at birth...

Essentially motivation is an illusion; notice how it's only people who feel unmotivated who go on about it. Motivated people don't talk about how motivated they are, they just get on and do things, and therein lies the crux of the matter.

Motivation is just another word for wanting to get on with things; from my findings over the past few years, I have seen that the difference between people who want to get on with stuff, and those who don't, is the fear of failure.

People who want to get on with things (the motivated), whilst they don't welcome failure, they do not fear it, because they realise it is a natural part of growing and learning. In fact there are many studies that show if you focus students minds on their efforts, rather than their abilities, they seek out new challenges. Their brains are a hive of positive neural activities as they solve these new challenges, regardless of how well they're doing.

Whereas, those with a fixed mindset, who just believe that their intelligence, and their skillset is set for life; do not welcome new challenge. Often; paradoxically, these are people who's abilities were praised in school. However that put them in a fixed-fear-of-failure mindset.

There is a very interesting study cited by Dweck, regarding a college test given to high school kids. The experimenters chose the high achievers, and then split them into two groups by way of a praise. One group while giving the test answers back, they said to them:

Wow 8/10 you must be really good at this.

The other

Wow 8/10 you must have worked really hard at this.

Guess what? The second group were more open to try a new test, and said that they enjoyed all the challenges put to them.

I bet you have already guessed the first group's response to the same questions?

Not favourable.

Essentially it has been shown that, kids with a fixed mindset, especially high achievers who have had their abilities praised. Act dumber, feel dumber, yet lie about being smarter.

I won't quote the individual studies as they are numerous; and really Dr Carol Dweck collates it so much better than I good.

I really respect your scientific knowledge and background and have enjoyed many of your articles; so it is with great respect that I implore you (if you haven't already) to read Mindset by Carol Dweck, it's a real eye opener :-)

Cg

·
71
  ·  3 months ago

The problem with dopamine is too much has negative consequences too. Dopamine at very high levels lead to addictive personality traits. This can be a problem because a person with high dopamine might seek to make more money but also might gamble it all away just as quickly. It can express itself in the form of drug addiction as well and we really don't know why or how some people have just the right amount of dopamine to be successful but not so much that they become addicted to gambling for example.

It's helpful to be driven but it is possible to be too driven. Being too driven can result in years of prison if a person isn't smart about it. It can result in addiction to substances or activities which are unhealthy. So it's not just a matter of dopamine, but having the knowledge to know how to direct that focus, intensity, motivation, and being in the environment where there are obvious positive outlets. Arnold Schwarzenegger is another example of an individual who has the dopamine levels and competitive nature to become a professional body builder, but somehow he managed to become very successful in life. Other body builders haven't reached that success outside of body building. Tookie Williams for example was also a very motivated person and professional body builder but he ended up getting the death penalty while Arnold ended up in the Terminator.

What was the difference between Tookie Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Both had the motivation instinct. One of them ended up in hollywood and the other died a prisoner.


References

  1. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/what_is_dopamine_love_lust_sex_addiction_gambling_motivation_reward.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Williams
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schwarzenegger
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/nov/07/usa.danglaister
45
  ·  3 months ago

Great post man.

67
  ·  3 months ago

Great article! The single phrase that stuck with me was "The economy values traits in humans which it can monetize easily," variations of which have always explained why I have seldom found myself as an "economically viable" member of society. Life is, indeed, typically just a series of games of chance.

59
  ·  3 months ago

Fantastic post. I think, internet, particularly Blockchain kind of technologies (the tech behind Bitcoin and Steemit) certainly change this idea and create a wonderful level playing field for all people. In a way, these tools will create somewhat acceptable 'egalatarian society in the future.' That was missed by the communist as well as capitalist regimes all over the world.

·
71
  ·  3 months ago

The solution in my opinion is decentralized artificial intelligence which every human being can access and or receive dividends from. In addition, other problems can be resolved by genetic enhancements or treatments. If a baby for example can get all genetic diseases cured then it's so much better for their long term quality of life. So it will be a combination of things.

In any case I don't think politics will help. Political solutions tend to be reactionary and short sighted. It's about giving everyone the opportunity to be the best version of themselves because that is better for us all who can experience better people.

·
·
59
  ·  3 months ago

Exactly. I strongly recommend you to read Juval Noah Harari's perceptive book 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind'. In which, he gave convincing arguments about why we (social animals) we are the way we are...

51
  ·  3 months ago

This was fascinating.
And honestly? I read it twice, which has to be some kind of record for me.
I think it's because @Denmarkguy and I were discussing "The Resource Curse" earlier today and the caste system in many countries. I think there's a caste system in most cultures, whether or not it's officially recognized.

Here's a Wiki link to the "Resource Curse" I referenced.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse

·
59
  ·  3 months ago

Normally, if we have plenty we become lazy. In a way, we behave to protect our wealth. There you can't expect any kind of growth, innovation or exchange of knowledge. Because these resources are 'inherited' naturally not acquired by hard work​. You can't avoid it. That's what cripples the nation-states​ of Middle East.

44
  ·  3 months ago

Determinism is an extensively debated doctrine. I agree the world has to be constantly reminded "you didn't build it". It was given to you.
Great article.

·
71
  ·  3 months ago

Determinism is absolutely true according to classical physics but quantum physics maybe not so sure.

In terms of social determinism, I don't believe in that. I do think statistics, odds, probabilities, all matter. If a person is born into a difficult set of conditions it's definitely going to be much more difficult to make a great life financially speaking out of it but it's not impossible.

People win the lottery against the odds in life. People become famous overnight and get rich once their talent/wealth is discovered. As we become more connected it becomes easier and easier to be discovered. But, being discovered also brings risk, as people tend to be jealous of others too.

44
  ·  3 months ago

To me this shows more proof that there needs to be universal income coverage for all, like what is being discussed in the US and what i believe is already being implemented in India. Quality of life should not be denied to people because they were not in the right place at the right time or rather don't have the luck another had. Everyone is an imperfect genius and the only way that every genius has the opportunity to help the world they live in is if they have the finacial opportunity to do so, by birth right, not by labor. A proper society takes care of all and then worries about rewards after everyone is covered. That's what i take from this, good post.