Exploring Human Potential

7 & 7: Smart vs. Lucky


To be lucky, you have to be in the right place at the right time, and in the right state of preparedness. Being prepared is not the same as being smart. There will always be someone smarter than you. Being prepared is more about being smart enough – smart enough to recognize potential opportunity, smart enough to presume questions and circumstances , smart enough to be ready to respond. Luck is rarely passive. It happens most to those whose experiences immerse them in the complex world of people, places, problems, and failure masked as opportunity. It’s hard to get lucky if you frustrate easily. It’s more about figuring out what will give you the edge you need to make things line up perfectly. Oversteering, forcing, demanding – these are not the traits found among the lucky. Preparedness, receptivity, and alertness – these are the qualities that make luck more likely. Pure luckiness is a rare phenomenon and not worth much because it is so fickle.


Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
Oprah Winfrey

I’ve had a lot of experience with people smarter than I am.
Gerald Ford

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
Thomas Jefferson

I am persuaded that luck and timing have, in my case, been very important.
Mike Wallace

Get as much experience as you can, so that you’re ready when luck works. That’s the luck.
Henry Fonda

When Ty Cobb got on first base he had an apparently nervous habit of kicking the bag… by kicking the bag hard enough Cobb could move it a full two inches closer to second base. He figured that this improved his changes for a steal, or for reaching second base safely on a hit.
Norman Vincent Peale

Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.
Shakespeare, ‘Cymbeline’

Fortune is fickle and soon asks back what he has given.

Latin proverb

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