1/15/17

WSO's audience is incredibly motivated and driven to succeed, so I thought I'd reflect on success and the role that luck plays in it.

My argument is that a significant portion, if not all, of one's success can be attributed to luck. This has been discussed on this forum before and in books such as Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, but I just wanted to reflect on this a bit more.

Let's start with a list of things that affect one's success, but are determined pretty much at birth:
- Your citizenship
- Your attractiveness (face, height, voice)
- Your race
- Your family and their wealth
- Your health
- Your personality (at least part of it)

Now, I'd argue these factors alone can explain all of one's success. Even things like work ethic which traditionally would be thought of as an example of something that one can control are really a function of luck.

Consider your attractiveness. If you are a good-looking guy, then growing up you probably were treated better and had more positive interactions with others. This means that you are also more likely to be affable and skilled with social interactions and therefore, more likely to succeed.

Now consider something like work ethic. As a society, we'd like to think that it is the industrious and innovative qualities of a person that makes him/her successful. So how does one become hard-working? Most likely, he had those qualities ingrained in him by his upbringing/family, which is determined at birth by luck. Perhaps he chose by accident to hang out with the right group of friends during recess in the elementary school playground and grew up with a high-achieving circle of friends that pushed him to work hard. Again, this is determined by luck.

What I'm trying to get at is that even things that we think we have control over (like how hard we work) are largely determined by chance. While past discussions suggest that at least a portion, even if small, of one's success is earned, I can't quite think of anything that someone can really "control"? I am thankful to be a Type-A, relatively hard working person. But did I really choose to be this way?

I don't mean to diminish anyone's success, I'm just curious to hear everyone's thoughts, counterarguments, etc. I also don't mean to imply that the just thing to do would be to equally distribute wealth to everyone since no one really "earned" anything. Society has a lot to gain from rewarding those who are lucky, as some of the comments have mentioned.

Comments (70)

Best Response
1/10/17

Which is why everyone should be a Democrat.

Financial Modeling

1/12/17

Even if the reason that some people get ahead in life is because they were lucky to be born with a productive temperament - capitalism still rewards those who are most productive because they can be trusted to produce the most surplus for society if given more working capital. It's not really about complimenting egos with material excess - it's just pragmatic resource allocation.

Maybe some people are simply unlucky to be born helpless drug addicts. That being what it is, they're still going to spend their welfare check on crack and I still don't want to allocate my tax revenue towards that.

1/16/17

Which is why you work in "corporate strategy." Doesn't get much lower than that.

1/11/17

Even if I accept all that you propose to be true, society still needs to reward those with greater "luck" more compared to those with worse "luck" in order to progress forward. That is, if I buy that e.g. Mark Zuckerberg was very lucky, and everything from his work ethic to his intelligence was a function outside his conscious control, it would countermand progress if society were to proactively or retroactively redistribute his fortunes to those without his level of luck.

1/11/17

Ok you got me! I was born with lucky circumstances, and I really feel bad for the Jack Ma's of the world who were born in less developed countries and looks like a cicada. There's no way that guy can succeed so I should just hand over every dollar I earn for fairness.

1/11/17

SB for cicada comment- made me lol

1/12/17

Seriously.. MS, because you don't have a sense of humor? WSO needs a built in safe space

1/11/17

Relevant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role_of_chance_in_sc...

"Psychologist Alan A. Baumeister says a scientist must be "sagacious" (attentive and clever) to benefit from an accident.[2] Dunbar quotes Louis Pasteur's saying that "Chance favors only the prepared mind".[3] The prepared mind, Dunbar suggests, is one trained for observational rigor. Dunbar adds that there is a great deal of writing about the role that serendipity ("happy accidents") plays in the scientific method.[1][4][5][6]"

1/11/17

You're just digging down into the philosophical debate of free will vs determinism. In other words, do we ever actually make decisions on our own, or is everything in the universe determined to play out in only one way, with every effect having a recursive cause going back to the crucibles of stars light years outside of our solar system?

Like even your conscious mind is just a deterministic neuro-model responding to stimuli that can, in theory with enough computing power, be perfectly modeled and then predicatively analyzed so that we will know how you respond to any possible situation.

The counter-point to this is a great quote from Roderick Chisholm -- "If we are responsible, and if what I have been trying to say is true, then we have a prerogative which some would attribute only to God: each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and nothing -- or no one -- causes us to cause those events to happen." In other words, when we make an action on our own basis of free will, we are fucking GOD -- we are a prime mover that sets in motion a chain of events stemming from us and not going back to any other cause.

Anyway, rather than post this stupid shit here you should just read through the Wiki man https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

1/12/17

Yeah except for the small problem that the academic community agrees with a significant majority that free will is most likely an illusion

1/12/17

[citation needed]

1/12/17

Source: McKinsey analysis.

1/12/17

see below

1/12/17

From a purely physical (as in physics) perspective, there is also an answer beyond a metaphysical one -- the uncertainty of quantum mechanics (When electrons are in a super position of being positive and negative or whatever). So the Hisenberg uncertainty principle and the randomness of quantum mechanics means that actually the universe might not be determined because we cannot know the position and speed of an electronic or other sub-atomic particles.

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

1/12/17

Good to know.

1/12/17

Lol @ all the butthurt college kids throwing MS who think they are the sole reason for their imminent succes and unmatched analytical skills

@-caP -- Yeah, the point you're trying to make is actually that the world is on a quantum level probabilistic, not deterministic. Nevertheless, that doesn't matter for the case of no free will. Free will implies that you make your own choices. However, many experiments have shown that the action potentials, due to the electrochemical imbalances in the brain, are present before you are aware of your action. Due to the complexity of the brain we're at the moment not able to prove free will is an illusion as the chain of command within the brain is too complex for current techniques. There is vey strong evidence that this is the case though. Patrick Haggard is potentially the most renowned scholar in this field, so if you want to start reading go there.

1/20/17

Making metaphysical conclusions about general matter based on what quantum mechanics says about sub-atomic particles is fucking stupid.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

1/12/17

Yes a lot of it is luck but worrying about luck isn't the best use of your time/energy if you're trying to succeed.

1/12/17

Your thesis, that luck determines everything is beyond ridiculous. If your thesis was right, no Blacks would ever get anywhere in life (because statistically Blacks are usually the biggest minority group in poverty, living on welfare, etc. and if what you did depended on "friends" and other such things since most of someone's friends who lives on Wellfare/grew up in the Projects are other people like them the chance of getting anywhere would be 0), Trump would have never won the election, and neither would Obama (again, based on stats and an absence of free will), and what's the "lucky" odds that the Rothchilds would be the richest family in the world for 500 years? (They've been in banking since the 1400s or 1500s.) Or for that matter, if you take music as a whole--the only way you get anywhere in that industry is hard work--talent means nothing when you have thousands of people who have the same level of talent fighting at the same level, literally dollar for dollar for people's attention/plays/listens etc. Sure, the musicians with the most money get the most plays, but even then they have to get to that level to start with--so even if you think they have it made once they're in the majors it still takes hard work to get there to start with. And my last example, our industry. IB can be hard to get into hence the work thing--no luck involved since even people who aren't from "target" schools get in with enough hard work, and let's face it--if traders knew their chance of making money would depend on "luck" how many people do you think would want to be traders? For that matter how much money do you think banks would put into prop trading? Answer: 0, because banks wouldn't put money into anything that wouldn't give them a good return. To put it simply--there is no such thing as luck. If the entire world depended on luck no one would do any work.

1/12/17

You're missing the point. The OP is claiming that your willingness to do hard work came from some combination of your parents and your environment, which you have no control over.

Financial Modeling

1/12/17

Could have phrase it better, I think. The lack of free will doesn't mean that you can just sit in bed all day and eventually you'll learn how to speak Japanese; this is missing the point. The argument always devolves into republican versus democrat (I have no idea why...)

The point is that you can't truly identify the "Self" as being responsible for your actions. If you go on a rampage, and you don't know why, but we find a golfball sized tumor on your hypothalamus, that certainly helps to explain why you did that. Eventually, we are going to get to a point in neuroscience that we can 100% map the brain with certainty, and will be able to point out to individual variables that explain behavior.

We don't fault a 6 year old for psychopathy, but we do find it necessary to jail 13 year old's for life. How do we reconcile this?

The simple fact is that you are no more in control of the next thought that arises in your mind, than you are for how tall you are.

1/12/17

Why do you bother posting this on a site where the vast majority of users believe "small loan of a million dollars" had the deck unfairly stacked against him?

1/12/17

Let's inject politics into everything. Nice.

1/12/17

I mean, the topic of this post is related to many contentiously debated political issues. Examples: whether those requiring government handouts are lazy and entitled, whether illegal immigrants and foreign nationals are "stealing" jobs from Americans, whether affirmative action is truly reverse discrimination and so much more.

Given that you yourself appear to be quite a fan of discussing politics on this site, I highly doubt your concerns about my post arise purely from the injection of politics into the discussion.

1/15/17

All politics aside, you are a shitty troll or a pretentious dick in my humble opinion.

1/12/17

What you don't realize is that your entire hypothesis is backwards looking. You look back in time, realize that the population, sliced in certain ways, seem to be correlated with "success" as you deem it. Then you postulate that success is related to these correlations. Of course it is. You are, however, doing a disservice to each of those buckets because what you fail to do, as many fail to do these days, is account for the great variance that occurs intra-bucket. You cannot simply impute the mean from such large categories. While your statement is factual, I vehemently disagree with its spirit.

1/12/17

How are you defining success? It seems your post contemplates career prospects.

With that, life is a series of decisions, each of which has its own consequences and leads to other breakpoints requiring further decisions. The most valuable asset, one that everyone is born with, is time, and how one decides to allocate that time will largely impact their "success." For example, based on the criteria you provided, I would consider myself as having the "privilege of success"; however, the career I decided to pursue is one where I am realistically capped around $200k. Peers on this board make that three years out of undergrad. My career prospects are determined by the decisions I make, and the career track I am on is a result of the decisions I have made. I am not sure how you can take credit from those who have committed their lives to studying and 70+ hour work weeks.

Based on your post, i am sure you have not finished university yet, but when you do, take a look at those you went to high school with and your peers throughout university. You will realize there is more to life than how you started it.

1/13/17

The last paragraph was all you needed to write....much respect.

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

1/12/17

Luck or circumstance plays a lot, but you forget what really makes someone successful - determination.

Luck or lack thereof cannot be controlled, but your reaction to both can be. If you're unlucky and just give up that's not luck, that's a choice.

As for luck, look at the ppl who win the lottery and end up broke. Luck is great, but without knowledge, effort and discipline, it is wasted.

Life's about preparing to endure the bad times and capitalize on the good times.

1/12/17

Appreciate the reply, but I feel that you are missing an important point, which was the purpose of the post. Feel free to let me know if you disagree. It's interesting to hear different thoughts on this topic.

You say that "determination" makes someone successful. But determination is similar to work ethic -- the key question is, what makes someone "determined"?

Again, I could say that how "determined" someone is is largely a function of factors out of his or her control, that is to say, they are a function of luck. For example, someone may have been born with extremely caring parents, who instilled these qualities in him/her.

1/14/17

Do you choose to go to the gym or lay on the couch? Do you choose to eat McDonalds or pass and eat a salad? Do you choose to have one more drink or go home buzzed, but not smashed?

Reality is success in life is a string of small choices that compound. Luck makes life easier or harder, but end of the day you get out what you put in.

Your entire premise is utterly defeating and provides an excuse for literally every bad behavior. I suppose a rapist could fall back on not being hugged as a child.

The majority of people have a choice in how successful they are within normal bounds. Outside of medical issues and other hereditary problems (depression, alcoholism), people do have a choice.

People who blame nothing but luck on their failure are losers in the truest sense. People who blame nothing but hard work on their success are delusional.

1/12/17

From a philosophical perspective I feel you but from a pragmatic perspective I don't care WHY some people suck, I just don't want to be around those people that suck or give anything to them.

This type of stuff is the reason I can't smoke pot anymore. I start questioning life and get depressed.

1/12/17

I think you've taken an important point and gone too far. Luck DOES determine a lot of our success in life but it doesn't determine everything. I suggest you read Robert Frank's book "Success and Luck". It's a good primer on this topic and a quick read. He has a very good example in the book about luck vs. hard work. Imagine a competition with 100,000 participants where each one has a "score" out of 100 and the highest score wins. That score is composed of the following two components: 98 points for hard work/skill, 2 points for luck. So, for the most skilled person, their score would be 98+a random number between 0-2 determined by chance. The second most skilled person would be 97.999 + a random number between 0-2, the third person 97.998, etc. In every single version of this simulation, the majority of the winners will be those with the most luck. The differences in skill are so small that they are swamped by the variations in luck.

It's an interesting thought experiment and a good way to get people to understand the role luck plays in their lives. However, the way to ACT (not think) is as if luck does not exist. You cannot control that 2% of random chance (or 50%, or 60%, pick a number). You CAN control the rest (skill, work ethic, etc). So while you should always be aware how much of a role luck can play (being aware tends to make people more humble, less arrogant and more generous), you should BEHAVE as if it does not.

1/12/17

Well said. What's that old quote? 'The harder I work, the luckier I seem to become.'

1/12/17

I finished Outliers less than an hour ago on my way to work.

Yes, we are a product of our great great great great grandparents' circumstances and all of the decisions and circumstances that shaped my family since then. HOWEVER, what Gladwell points out is that while Asians may be predisposed to be better at math, their heritage as rice farmers has instilled a great work ethic in them. If you don't work hard, you are very likely not going to be successful, with few exceptions.

If you want to think that others have won the genetic/birth place lottery then go ahead, but I've known kids who have started with nothing, had parents who had no work ethic, etc and they've gone to good schools and have been successful. It's all about taking the opportunities you get and maximizing them through hard work. If you want to call that luck, then whatever, but working hard creates opportunities and opportunities open doors where working hard creates more opportunities and the cycle goes on.

In short, you can make your own luck through hard work.

1/12/17

My boss who literally keeps nothing in his office has a Chinese fortune cookie saying:

Luck is where hard work meets opportunity.

1/12/17

To those injecting a political reading: virtually none of those "lucky at birth" factors are redistributable.

More broadly: moderate achievement or mediocrity is generally a function of skills and merit (or lack thereof); extreme comfort or destitution is generally a function of luck and circumstance (or lack thereof).

1/12/17

Interesting topic. Let's not forget that you're merely the one lucky sperm, from a load of jizz, that happened swim fast enough.

I would... but the truth is I can't sell my soul to myself...
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/blackknight.asp

1/12/17

The chant of losers.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

1/14/17

I feel like this is truly an American, born into opportunity, concept. This entire thought process is one that immigrants to this country would scoff at.

1/15/17

This has been my observation as well. Immigrants are focused on making moves and escaping poverty, while Americans are fixated on their privilege and white guilt. It's kind of funny, actually, when you observe the whole situation from a distance.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

1/15/17

Totally agree. It's always middle/upper class white kids bitching about the past generations fucking them, how they have it hard, etc. Total lack of awareness, work ethic and/or understanding how truly lucky they are to have the opportunities available here.

1/12/17

I think your theory has an extremely hard time explaining how two people who are born into roughly the same situation can have such drastically different outcomes. I'm not talking about two people who grow up on the streets of Detroit growing up differently, as obviously an extreme success from a situation like that is unlikely. I'm talking about two middle class, or even upper middle class, individuals. Hell, even two brothers can have extraordinarily different outcomes.

1/13/17

I'd say that it can account for those born into the same situation but have different outcomes because this is not really a possibility under my theory. Different outcomes can almost always explained by some sort of difference in luck/difference in "situation." Perhaps they are born with different personalities. Perhaps they met the right people. The list of possibilities goes on.

1/12/17

You should read: Fooled By Randomness, if you haven't already.

1/12/17

Great book. Makes you appreciate small things which are out of your control.

1/12/17

Good call. I highly recommend this book.

1/12/17

it's all a simulation...mannnnn

"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

"The investor's chief problem - and even his worst enemy - is likely to be himself." - Benjamin Graham

1/15/17

+1

I certainly fucking hope so.

1/12/17

I'm not sure if you comprehended Outliers correctly. Yes Gladwell talks about people being in the right place at the right time, but they also still needed to take advantage of that "luck." I'm a strong believer that you make your own luck by being aware of opportunities presented to you.

Gladwell talks a lot in Outliers about how the most successful people put in a ton of work and comes to the conclusion that 10,000 hours is a good number needed to work a craft before you become exceptional at it.....

With your outlook, what's the point of even living life? Basically everything is out of our control and we are all victims....? Why live.. That's not the definition of living, with that outlook, we are all just dying slowly...

BTW, Outliers was one of my favorite books I read in 2016, only read 8 books in 2016 was hoping for at least 12, goal is 12 again this yr, currently reading Flow, which is an awesome concept to be aware of...

"He profits most who serves best"

"Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage"

*Mark 11:24

1/12/17

"With your outlook, what's the point of even living life? Basically everything is out of our control and we are all victims....? Why live.. That's not the definition of living, with that outlook, we are all just dying slowly..."

I like to use the analogy of going to see a movie. Before you walk into the theater you know that the movie will proceed only one way. That doesn't mean the movie isn't worth watching. The key point is that you don't know how the movie will turn out. Same with life - even though I have no free will, there's still value in living my life, proceeding down the path that was laid for me and seeing how everything unfolds, with all the ups and downs of emotion.

1/12/17

Agreed with your analysis of Outliers. Example: Peyton and Eli may have been been gifted a lot (NFL player dad, good supportive family, etc. AKA "luck") but let's not pretend that they didn't bust their asses from childhood through their NFL careers.

1/12/17

Makes ya think

1/12/17

The one thing I will comment on in this thread, in regards to luck, is that environment and circumstances growing up beat out genetics almost all the time. I have seen kids who were highly intelligent and picked up on things fast but due to a lack of guidance and growing up in a troubled environment, they weren't the ones who got into the fancy Ivy League schools and managed to get that six figure job out of college. The environment they were raised in (often impoverished) managed to make them get into trouble with the law and miss out on so many promising opportunities.

On the same token, I met kids who were fairly average kids, not exceptionally good looking or intelligent but managed to do well on standardized tests due to coaching/test prep as well as go to high schools were teachers always cared for them.

Even the poor kids everyone on here brings up as succeeding in life, they did so because they met the right person at the right time and managed to catapult themselves to success. Maybe they were in a big city where even though they might have been from a poor family, at least the opportunity was there. Perhaps they ran into a sympathetic well off person who wanted to help them succeed (out of good will and the need for being recognized as someone that helps poor kids succeed).

Over the years, I've found this to be the one truth about success in life.

The environment you grow up in, the people you meet growing up, the kind of family you have, the kind of city or town you're raised in, and the type of high school you go to have the biggest say on how much you succeed. You will beat out people with better looks and higher intelligence almost all the time.

Call it sour grapes on my part and I will get a lot of dislike for this but I truly truly believe that a good number of kids working in investment banking and B4 consulting have benefitted from ideal circumstances growing up as opposed to being gifted. Most kids with their circumstances growing up would have ended up in the same situation.

1/13/17

This reminds me of the film, "Trading Places" with Eddie Murphy.
I think the title is self-explanatory...

Quand on veut, on peut.

1/13/17

I work hard because I have goals and am internally driven not luck.

1/13/17

What about all of those special schemes SEO etc. which set about reversing these trends - is the average person who doesn't qualify for these schemes but doesn't have connections or wealth still lucky because of the factors which mean they don't qualify?

1/14/17

For those looking to get beyond a first year psych perspective, this OP is talking about the "locus of control". Those with a highly internal locus of control, like many on this board, believe they have significant control over their environment, where the OP has an external locus, postulating that outcomes in their life are mostly impacted by factors outside their control, such as chance, luck, or other people.

People who go to ivy league schools and work on Wall Street are self sorting just like everyone else. It takes a certain type of person to seek a Harvard MBA, so naturally have an internal locus. These people all work hard, so naturally they believe in the impacts of strenuous personal effort because they have seen first hand results from hard work.

Those who try very hard and do not have these successes are likely to believe an outside force overcame their hard work and defeated their efforts.

1/15/17
  • high IQ never hurt
  • personality or high EQ (empathy, ability to get people to relate, sign on to your message. Think Hillary vs Trump)
  • luck/circumstance/ right or wrong place at a time (Think 'Me before You' and 'My Left foot' or those w familal cancer, visited by the ALS fairy)

Too many gamechangers to list. If I were to pick 3, 1-Sense of humor, 2-robust love of life combined with 3-force of Personality/fire in the belly, whatever you want to call it. It will bend the universe In your direction...it conquers ALL: country of origin, family, race, looks, brains, everything else are rendered meaningless.

IME, you have to know what you want (and it better be worthwhile for the universe to bless it.)

1/15/17

Natural intelligence helps a lot IMO. Sure, socioeconomics and a poor upbringing can derail an otherwise gifted person. Challenges growing up can also harden the resolve and increase motivation for naturally gifted people.

In my own anecdotal case, at our company, most of the people who are executives are extremely naturally gifted intelligence wise. Granted I'm not at an IBank and am at a medium size multibillion dollar company.

Our CEO is a genius. But I would say most billionaires are. He's the only one I've spoken to at much length in my life and he is intellectually superior to anyone I've met in my life. The VPs and Directors are in true awe to his decisions he's made. His depth of understanding of our industry is such that he is almost regarded as an oracle with the gift of premonition. I suspect he would have obtained similar success in any industry he had chosen to work in.

1/15/17

Risk is not factored into this discussion, it is my belief that "luck" can be improved by a willingness to take risks to get ahead. Humans naturally have a fear for the unknown. Those who are willing to take calculated risks, tend to be the most successful. Every person has at least 3+ major decision points in life where vastly different outcomes are possible. Often one of these decisions is a high risk-high reward scenario, and one is a scenario of comfort.

Example: Many people are unwilling to move away from the friends and family that they grew up with. This limits them in career/educational/life options. Often it is simply a fear that they will not be able to meet new friends or not like the new area.

Example: Many people get complacent in a job/life and are afraid to take the risk of switching jobs or switching career paths.

Example: The kid growing up who fell in with the wrong friends group. He always had the opportunity to seek out new friends, but this required the risk of destroying relationships with current friends.

Those who are willing to take calculated risks and overcome this fear have a better chance of creating their own "luck". While we can't control our environment, we can control the decisions we make.

While I am young, I personally have had 3 points in my life where I would be on a completely different trajectory in my life had I decided differently. In all three cases, I chose the riskier path and it created opportunities for luck to occur that would not have existed otherwise.

Bottomline: Most people passively let life come to them, successful people aggressively create their own opportunities.

1/15/17

I agree, and generally believe a lot of successful people don't realize how much of their success is due to things that are outside of their control.

However, I think the factors that contribute to success are like tools in a toolbox. Some of us get more of the tools of success than others, but even if you got all the necessary tools, you need to choose to use them/use them properly.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

1/15/17

I'm successful by any objective measure (top 10% of American earners, which puts me solidly among the top 1% of global earners), and I attribute almost all my success to luck.

I was born in a London orphanage to an unwed Irish teenager. Starting from there, an utterly comical confluence of events had to transpire to find me here nearly 50 years later. If any single one of them had not, my life would be drastically worse.

I'd rather than be lucky than good any day.

1/15/17

Eddie, is your real name Oliver?

1/15/17

I feel a lot of people are misunderstanding OP's thoughts.

To boil it down to a simple format, my life is a linear progression of states. My "decisions" at time Tn is a derived by T(n-1) + noise/chance. This model can be traced backwards until T0. Logically T0 is the beginning of time, as your identity is equally decided by those before you, but to dumb it down, lets say T0 is birth. At T0 my life is summarized just by chance (what genes/personality/family affluence/economic environment). As such, my whole world is deterministic.

Importantly, this does not diminish my role or responsibility. If i'm watching a movie i've seen before, and a character makes morally poor decision, the fact that I knew he had to make the decision in no one discounts his responsibility for it. If anything, acknowledging the determinism in our universe leads to greater accountability. I am an accumulation of states, this is who I am, and if something poor exists within this identity, it is as much a part of me as any of my strengths.

1/16/17

As I have gotten older I have more and more embraced the idea that success is in fact often produced by "luck" as I believe it is defined by the OP, at least for the very top performers.

However, I do not believe the OP properly names the traits...when thinking about truly high achievers in finance I actually see very little correlation to things like looks, height, EQ, or even IQ. I think real top performers tend to have at least "baseline" luck on those traits (ie they have no physical deformities and aren't complete morons) but what they share is something in their background that makes them insanely and almost irrationally committed to suceeding. In my experience this usually comes from something traumatic in their early lives...abandonment by a parent, abuse, violent tragedy, etc. It is kind of morbid but I find that this type of negative "luck" + a decent education can often produce people who literally cannot accept failure.

Note that I am not talking about your average fairly successful finance person but rather people who have become real top .1% in the business....if you want dependable "medium successful" people then you want the standard traits such as high IQ, high EQ, etc.

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