Service of Luck

February 6th, 2012

Categories: Discipline, Luck, Opportunity, Work

A quote by New York Yankee Lefty Gomez, that he’d rather be lucky than good, appeared in Lisa Sanders, MD’s diagnosis section of her analysis in a New York Times Magazine article, “A Head Full of Pain.” Sanders wrote that she heard that quote a lot when she was a TV journalist.

She noted that the same holds true for medicine. “It was lucky I was studying. It was lucky I ran across this mention of this half-remembered disorder. It’s humbling to know how easily I could have missed this diagnosis. But does it have to be lucky or good? We all aspire to be both.”

Discussing football players during a radio interview on the Friday before the Super Bowl, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed that if someone consistently plays well that it’s due to skill, not luck.

The old saw about being in the right place at the right time may be luck, but is it? What did you give up to attend an event, join a committee or sign up for a class where you met your next client or boss: Nights and weekends to catch up on work deadlines? Wasn’t this equal parts luck and motivation?

Monique Sanchez is a talented young actress who produced and starred in an off-Broadway play while juggling a job and other obligations. During this busy period the only thing she missed was sleep. The risks and tasks involved with producing a play are no joke but she took them. She didn’t wait for a showcase role to come to her, she created [a great] one. Nor did she hope the right people came to see her: She saw that they did. Is it timing, talent, luck, perseverance, energy–or all of these things–that account for her being cast in increasing numbers of television shows?

What part does luck play in success? In the outcome of many of life’s twists and turns?

9 Responses to “Service of Luck”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Luck always plays a part in success, but being good is a great help. Regardless of the nostrums shoved down our throats as children, there is no such thing as equality, and that goes for everything that happens in life. There are the Gates and the Rockefellers, and the homeless in the streets. Much depends upon where and to whom one is born, so let’s not sweat it and consider ourselves lucky not to be begging on a street corner!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wonder what would have happened if I’d not had the educational advantages or background I lucked into or if someone else had enjoyed mine, what they might have done with it all–a useless exercise.

    There was a Rockefeller joke about the first rich one who gave a skimpy tip to a cab driver who supposedly said to him, “Your son gives bigger tips,” to which he replied, “My son didn’t have to work for his money.” I don’t know the background of the founder of the rich strain of that family but I think nose to the grindstone and shrewd business practices and a certain personality–along with being born when he was [luck]–helped. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” makes a big point of when a person is born and how it helps or hurts a person’s chances for success. Maybe some call this fate.

  3. EKG Said:

    I wish I knew the answer to the question whether luck counts for more than hard work. I think it depends upon the individual. However, I had boss once who believed that you make your own luck, and there is something to that. If you don’t make an effort, all the luck in the world won’t get you there.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m hoping to read a comment that says: “I have a foolproof recipe that brings luck and here it is!” On the other hand, leaning towards Lucrezia’s response, if I lined up all the luck I’ve had, from family and friends to clients and jobs, to husband and travel, to ……..[I can’t have a comment longer than my post so I’ll stop here] then most would agree that I already have the recipe!

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    You might have acted as a friend who was thrown out of her home at 16, made it to Yale, eventually earning a PhD in chemistry. Adversity helps as well as hinders. Personality plays a part, not to speak of any number of events leading to positive or negative conclusions. Or, you might have ended up in a crack house! Who knows?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If given the choice, I’d rather be your brilliant friend who made it to Yale though chemistry wouldn’t have been my major! Between being tossed out of my home as a kid or ending up in a crack house–I’d rather be me with my non-scientific brain that’s also not under a drug-induced haze!

  7. Debby Brown Said:

    I’ve always believed that luck favors a prepared mind!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A prepared mind will recognize a good opportunity and even invent solutions to challenges, for sure.

    Then I think of the dog walker in my neighborhood who found $1,000+ in cash on the street. She reported this to the doormen–not telling them the precise amount–and said that if anyone asks them about it, she’d return the money. Nobody did! And if you don’t think I check out the sidewalk when walking home at night………I’m prepared!

  9. Cynthia Hanson Said:

    One of my favor quotes “When preparedness meets opportunity”. Cheers to Perseverance !

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