Luck And Risk

(Chapter 2)

Outcomes are determined by more than effort. Luck and risk often figure prominently in individual outcomes.


Story of Bill Gates: Gates attended one of the only high schools in the world that had a computer in 1968. Were it not for the efforts of a teacher, Bill Dougall, to procure a $3000 teletype computer, it is unlikely that Bill Gates would have enjoyed the same career success.


Gates himself admits as much: “If there had been no Lakeside [High School], there would have been no Microsoft.”


At Lakeside there were three standout computer students (all friends): Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Kent Evans. Kent Evans was destined for success but met an untimely death in a mountaineering accident before graduation. This is used as an example of bad luck.


“Luck and risk are both the reality that every outcome in life is guided by forces other than individual effort…they both happen because the world is too complex to allow 100% of your actions to dictate 100% of your outcomes.”


“The accidental impact of actions outside of your control can be more consequential than the ones you consciously take.”


“Focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns.”


Extreme outcomes are low probability outcomes. Applying the lessons of those who achieved these outlier results isn’t always helpful since external forces of luck and risk may have played immeasurable and non-replicable roles.


Instead look at broad patterns that offer directional insights. For instance, happy people tend to be those who control their time and energy.

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