“You’re a very lucky fellow. I wish I could have been that lucky when I was younger”.
Somebody said this to me recently, and it’s a reccurring theme I see at least once every 2 weeks. Someone will directly say to me, “I’m glad you’ve found success, you’re very lucky.” Throughout my journey thus far, whenever I earn success, I’ve had people say, “You’re lucky!”
I’ve heard it said to other friends too; my mate recently earned (notice I said earned) a promotion, I told a few people about it, and some said, “He’s very lucky”.
“You’re lucky you’re white.”
“You’re lucky you’re 6ft tall.”
“You’re lucky to have such a beautiful girlfriend”
“You’re lucky to have such an awesome job”.
“You’re lucky to have such a strong, fit body.”
“You’re lucky you’re so well-read and educated.”
“You’re lucky your parents are still together.”
Fuck off. Luck usually has very little to do with someone’s success. And even if luck had a lot to do with it, that doesn’t take away from all the effort the person had to put in to get to where they are. Luck and hard work are not mutually exclusive.
And in the cases where it’s genuinely luck – eg, “You’re lucky you were born tall”, you’re cherry-picking one lucky attribute and ignoring all the unlucky attributes the person was born with. They might be tall, but do they have a stutter? Maybe they’re extra neurotic? Maybe they were born into poverty, maybe they have terrible insomnia, maybe they’re terrible at making friends, maybe they have crippling depression underneath that tall exterior you so enviously covet. Don’t pick one isolated attribute and act like it’s the only attribute that person has.
Obviously when you chalk someone’s successes up to luck, you’re taking away from all the hard work they’ve put in. Speaking from experience, when you achieve something great (anything that takes a minimum 12+ months or longer of hardcore, total obsession to achieve), it NEVER comes easily.
- You’ll make a million mistakes, look like a fool 10,000 times, and constantly wonder if you’ll ever get anything right.
- If it’s anything that involves dealing with other people (hitting on girls, sales, starting a new business) you’ll be rejected hundreds or thousands of times, which will absolutely eat away at your confidence and self-esteem, especially early on.
- You’ll have moments where you feel completely cut off from everybody else, stuck in your own lonely existence, because you’re suffering now (relentless hard work can be torture sometimes) while they all seem to be happy now. (Don’t worry; the hard work will pay off eventually).
- You’ll have moments where you want to give up. Hundreds of moments.
- You often lose track of where the finish line is, and where you started, and you find it hard to tell if you’re even making any progress at all (are you just spinning your wheels?)
- Doubt. Oh, the doubt. “Am I doing the right thing?” “Is this goal even achievable?” “Do other people think I’m a loser for working on this goal?” “Do my friends/loved ones think I’m too obsessed with this goal?” “Other people that achieved this were smarter/stronger/better than me, I don’t think I can do what they did.” etc.
- At some point, once the initial excitement of the goal wears off, you enter what Arnold Schwarzenegger calls “The Pain Period” where it’s a total un-fun grind, you know you’re miles from your goal, and you’ve just gotta stick at it day-in, day-out. That can be absolute hell.
And as well as taking away from the person’s hard work (“hellish work” is probably more accurate), you’re doing something even more nefarious:
You’re giving yourself permission to not even try.
This right here is THE REASON people say, “You’re so lucky”. It’s not that their main intention is to take away from your achievements (well it is, a little bit). Their main intention is to give themselves an excuse not to have to repeat your hard work and earn the successes you’ve earned.
And I get it. I just wrote a long list of all the ways in which you suffer and struggle on the path of reaching a meaningful goal. It’s HARD. It’s HELL. You’ll struggle daily, you’ll constantly wonder if you’ll ever reach your goal, you’ll wonder why the hell you ever took on this monumental task. I wouldn’t wish the struggle upon anyone.
But I’d wish the SUCCESS on everyone. Literally anyone can do what I or anyone else who’s achieved goals has done. It’s literally just consistent daily effort, over a long enough time period.
By saying, “You’re so lucky”, you’re writing it off as something they only have because “the universe pre-ordained it”; which means that you could never have it. Because they’re lucky, and you’re unlucky. Which means you get to sit on your couch and continue eating potato chips while watching TV, never having to worry, “Am I wasting my potential? Could I achieve my goals, like he did?”
If you are envious of what others have, you either need to:
a) Go for it and make it happen yourself; or
b) Accept that you don’t really want it, and thus give yourself permission to let it go & move on with something else.
Most people know they can’t pick option b), because deep down they really DO want to achieve their goals. But option a) is scary as hell. Instead, a lot of people opt for a third option, “I’ll say he’s just lucky, so I don’t have to emulate his hard work and struggles”. They continue to want the goal/achievement, lament others who have it, but tell themselves they can’t have it because they’re just “unlucky”.
Eventually “I’m unlucky” and “I can’t achieve that goal because of reason x, y, z” becomes the default habit, and they never achieve anything they want to achieve.
It’s learned helplessness.
It’s fixable though. Just stop making excuses, admit you really DO want to achieve that goal, and then start taking steps to make it happen.
People who want to change/improve, will find ways to improve. They’ll Google resources, read books, ask other people, or even experiment and try and find the answer themselves, through trial and error. They’ll do whatever it takes to reach their goals.
This motherfucker was born without any limbs, yet he’s pushed himself to live an awesome life – he travels around the world giving motivational speeches and set up his own not-for-profit. He chose not to let bullshit excuses get in his way – he earned his success. What right do you have to complain about your “unluckiness” when he was born with 4 less limbs than you and is still out there getting shit done?
In a similar vein, I’ve never understood the concept of living vicariously through someone else instead of achieving things for yourself. Celebrity/idol worship is insane to me. If you like what someone else has, don’t you want that for yourself? Why would anyone be content to watch other people achieve success, while not going for it themselves, justifying it with terrible excuses like, “They’re just lucky”?
Nuts. Absolutely nuts.