Opportunity Is What Happens When Luck Meets Preparation

Take the other pill:

Yet, who am I to argue with Seneca?

I think, all opportunity is based on a weird arrangement of the universe, on a specific moment. I think, there is no opportunity without luck.

This might well be the reason for ninety-nine in one hundred startups failing. And, it is a soothing fact for all this stressed out generation that worries, day in day out, about everything that could be done. It doesn’t matter that much what could be done; it matters a lot what is done.

The first dream job I had, I saw the advert upside down on the subway, in the newspaper that the person seating in front of me was reading. Had I not sat right there, it could very well mean no advertising career for me. Mind you I had applied to numerous positions before, to ads I have searched for, with no success, but with a lot of preparation.

We should not confuse preparation with work:

  • True preparation starts only when one hopes for luck.
  • True work is when the right people do the right thing in the right place. Everything else is either salary, survival, hobby or passion.

Luck is random concurrence that produces added value.

When you think about how globalisation and capitalism work, it stands out how the extraction of value from society dries up thriving environments. Without an environment where one can thrive, life is a deserted place, where it is just a matter of pure luck to get a flimsy stream of water and attempt to blossom.

At least in today’s world, the ancient personal development motto of luck being what happens when opportunity meets preparation, is nothing more than cold kool aid thrown around to keep everyone’s hope high, or, more precisely, high on hope.

What is the probability of success?

Well, take everything into account: the new found geographical significance of places, your heritage, racial, ethnic or national, your natural personality and the amount it fits on the asshole stereotype of the yes man, and you’ll end up with a number which is so small that only sheer luck will put you near it.

As people start to think of “solutions” for problems that can be entirely avoided, such as basic income for all the people who will not create wealth due to robots, it becomes so obvious that the probability of succeeding financially shrinks by the day.

In a highly industrialized and globalized market normality becomes luxury, and every single one of us is dwelling on the “first” layer of our social pyramid. But, behold! There is no ladder to climb, nor steps to ascend upon. Just as wind and sand erode the tip of a real pyramid, so do recession, war and trickle down economics, erode our social pyramid. We are on our way to be a large sheet of citizeltons.

Citizeltons: a silent, warm and fed combination of citizen and simpleton.

People don’t like to call luck, luck.

It makes them feel less valuable.

It wasn’t always the case though. Traditionally people valued the lucky ones. Sure, lacking all the maths we use today to calculate the odds of being the one in one hundred success stories at YCombinator, they also saw luck as a helping hand from the gods, therefore the lucky one was a kind of “chosen”. And because being chosen still is, even today, a status to die for, back in the day, lucky people stood by their luck, and did not attempt to swipe serendipity under the rug.

Even small successes, like one of my most recommended posts here is sheer luck. That article was up and visible for a lot of days with no visibility, no recommends, when, one late evening, I had a last minute check of my Medium feed and saw another writer suggesting repost as a way to bring back up good old stories. Had I gone to bed, I wouldn’t have had an over 100 recommends article on my profile now.

Today though, we need “underground thinkers” to point out the obvious, for example, the fact that no real success whatsoever is single handedly grabbed right from the sky. There is no self made mane, you need to stand on many shoulders “make it”.

Sure, should you have a good balance and determination it is even better, but all the balance and determination in the world won’t make one fly. People brag and claim they’re superior because they are valued one hundred million dollars, as if that is something which human qualities alone can get.

Preparation is a constant hustle.

Caught in the sticky social sheet of the low born, staying prepared sucks. It is a lot like swimming against the current. Take property for example.

I feel like very soon I’ll need a subscription for breathing. Subscriptions are great, like constant updates, but they give you no timeout. “You stop the cycle, we cut your juice.” But the cycle keeps you embedded in the sheet. Trying to get above the social sheet and keep the cycle rolling at the same time, takes a heavy toll on you, and burnouts happen.

It’s worth noting, again, that there is no opportunity without preparation. From cheating on a spouse, to a good sell of stock, there is preparation which allowed luck to transform ordinary into extraordinary.

In 2007, when the real estate market was starting to crumble, I foresaw the trend and went on to sell my apartment, because I knew it was worth a historical high; not because I am a real estate genius, but because a sidebar-suggested article from The Financial Times had some economist telling everyone to borrow as much as they can. I didn’t sell it, because I was not prepared, so luck hit me, but no opportunity ever rose because of my lack of preparation.

Opportunity cost lies in missed preparation, not in missed opportunities.

All skill, beauty, talent and aptitude decay. When you hang around in a situation that generates an opportunity cost (relationships, jobs, places to live in etc.) always assess how much are you willing to loose by not attending to your skills, beauty, talents and aptitudes.

Opportunity management means: how prepared are we to sense opportunity.

That means you may be lucky and prepared, and yet let opportunity pass you by because, just as we have ferrite in our noses to sense the North, the same way we have an opportunity sensor somewhere.

The hard truth is, there is no such thing as sacrifice, because we humans cannot resist opportunity.

We are hard wired for immediate satisfaction, and should we sense opportunity there is nothing to stop us from taking advantage of it.

Those bragging about how they’ve let “opportunities” pass them by, because they sacrificed themselves for family or whatever, are in fact suffering from hindsight regret.

They see the opportunities now that they are in the future, but in fact they did not sense the opportunities then, when they had the chance of luck in their life. Had they sensed them, no way they’d let them pass.

Opportunities cannot be passed, yet they can be missed and the result is an excruciating regret. That is why genuine sacrifice hurts like hell.

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