Influence of Luck And Risk In Defining the Life Course

“Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems” — Scott Galloway

Life’s uncertain. With unpredictabilities attached, the life curve narrows and widens depending upon the perceptions adopted. Its graph is non-linear as it attunes with the shifts governed by the individual skillsets.

The swing between human perspective and skills acquired flashes up with possible choices. These choices dictate or interfere with life opportunities — a prediction meter for good times and bad times and determine how lucky or unlucky an individual is. With that, perception of risk and risk-taking ability arises through the revelations of experiences of good fortune or misfortune among the lucky and luckless.

In umbraging times when a life event feels like chanced happenings, human minds speed up with questions:

  • How lucky in life do we feel?
  • Does risk-taking act as an essential trait to uplift life?
  • Is success a dependant variable of luck and risk?

Figuring out the nature of success, the power that fuels it, and its operating mechanism is exactly untraceable. At instances, individual success depends on a wide range of perspectives adopted. It employs observing life through functions of luck and risk. These life entities are two sides of the same coin. And an ultimate reality deciphering that every outcome in life is guided by a hidden force apart from the individual efforts sown.

In his book, “The Algebra of Happiness,” Scott Galloway, an NYU professor, author, and a successful business owner, emphasized a thought that must be remembered while judging success — both self and of the others. In his thoughtful words, he asserts, “Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.”

Real-World experiences coin a potent dose of luck

Book studies are essential. Besides formal learning, real-world experience makes an actual difference. Through reading, we can gain insight into the knowledgeable tools or learn about moral-ethical values, but the application of these subjective virtues in our everyday lives sets the progression route.

Learning through experiences or learning through reflections on doing is termed Experiential learning. As a learner, when we sidestep from the passive forms of learning like didactic or rote, then we merge into a more involved way of an active learning process.

The educational theorist David A. Kolb’s experiential learning model focuses on the learning process of the individual. According to his theory, learning is constantly attained through the personal and environmental experiences of an individual. The hands-on experience received makes us observe things deeply and contributes to our overall understanding of the environment.

Playing violin, for instance, is better learned through regular practice rather than reading or hearing how to play that instrument from a book or device.

Engagement in practicing any crafts makes us hone it better. Furthermore, through observations, one gets an opportunity to determine what’s working or failing. Resultingly, a person can leverage practical power to attract luck.


Luck also can strike our path fortuitously.

In The Psychology of Money, the award-winning author Morgan Housel cites an engaging story regarding luck, risk, and how these quantifiers magically add to individual progress or cloud their success. One of its chapters highlights how luck set the initial thrust and defined Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’s life.

Gates had a head-start in his early years. These initial years brought him experiences attuning luck. The Lakeside school he attended made him meet his late friend Paul G. Allen and together, they became computing experts.

Later in life, the company they co-founded, “Microsoft Corporation,” is worth more than a trillion dollars. It channeled their enormous fortune. Addressing his high-school graduating class in 2005, Bill Gates mentioned, “If there had been no Lakeside, there would have been no Microsoft.”

Philanthropist Bill Gates experienced once-in-time luck by ending up at Lakeside. Like Gates, few people walk the path of luck in their initial years. And luck nurtured with hard work shone light on life’s varied dimensions.

Risk employs an equally potent dose similar to luck

If luck exists in lives, how can risk be behind? Both are members of the same tribe and equally governs life. It’s a universally known fact that a few people experience a stroke of luck, whereas others journey through risky rivers.

And sailing through risk-bearing times feeds human lives with nauseating experiences. Most of us are goal-oriented and purposefully driven towards a planned outcome but reaching the desired aim has been achieved by few.

We have seen people experiencing situations where the potent dose of risk spills over their proposed plans despite them being goal-driven. In such gripping moments, parsing through life and deciphering the exact possible outcomes is not only bewildering but also mystifying.

In goal-seeking, the default criterion is hard work, taking calculated risks, but we also must not forget the appearance of the forces other than the individual efforts. Although this might sound a bit superstitious or mythical but in truth, these forces circumnavigate the human cycle in extraordinary ways.

Consider viewing your surroundings. On observing, don’t we find how some people succeed despite minimalistic efforts. In comparison, the journey is like series of cross-overs for others. No matter how much hard work put in, success to them always seems alien. And happiness feels like a cursed gift.

I have known a friend who is constantly getting rejected in the interview round of civil services exams. While ample reasons can justify failure, but for sure, the hard work put in never stands in doubt. So much of day-in hard work yet success to this friend feels distanced. Many times, hidden energies anchor life’s trajectories, thus leaving us baffled over the outcomes.

In the documentary Inside Bill’s Brain, Gates reminisces about Kent Evans, his high school best friend. With excellent computational skills, Evans would have been one of the co-founders of Microsoft had he been alive. Although he was goal-oriented and had bright visions for the future, life planned something else for Evans unluckily. Before graduating high school, he lost his life in a mountaineering accident.

Life sometimes comes to a stop untimely, unexpectedly. These cyclic phases for a few people exist for a momentary time. But to experience such forces, one should swim and live in the uncertainties.

On existentialism, the Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard mentioned, “Life has its hidden forces which an individual can only discover by living.” Therefore, the stage of existence is a mode of being in the world that defines success in life with its specific criterion.

The dramatic lives of humans dance to similar events in distinct ways, and as mentioned earlier, some of the species get to experience one in a million luck. Contrarily, few others face the risk that wholly submerges the ship of their life and costs their dreams.

We cannot predict how the submergence bomb will explode life, but we know that the universal truism of risk exists like our dear luck. Both have equivalent power, equal force, working in reverse directions.

On personal construct, the exceptional stroke of luck hasn’t been experienced by me so far except that I am lucky to live an emotion called life. Risk, on the other hand, seems an evergreen companion. We know life turns have a twist of risk associated. Both luck and risk, therefore, should be weighed equally.

Having said that, the accidental impact of the forces outside our control, the randomness of the happenings in our lives exercises because of the hidden forces at work in the world, which we remain totally unaware of. And they somehow influence our thoughts, feelings, and actions and determine the course of life events irrespective of whether we believe in them or not.

Our perceptions in these instances etch difference. Usually, in bad times we perceive things are much worse. In reality, they are not. Similarly, in good times we perceive things are way rosier. In reality, they are not. When luck and risk are given their fair share of respect, our view of judging financial or any life-related success changes.

“Nothing is as good as it seems, and nothing is as bad as it seems, said Lou Holtz, “Somewhere in between lies reality.”

In the rhythm of words, I try to unfold life. Thoughtful expressions in Philosophy, Science, Humanities. Compassion above All. Email:

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