Is Your Success the Result of Hard Work or Luck?

Estimated read time 4 min read

In times of uncertainty, the eternal question arises: How much does luck influence our success? I recall that during the pandemic, a headline went viral, pointing out the difference in the perception of remote work. But to what extent do we overvalue our contribution and underestimate others’? How much of the work we do truly falls on our shoulders? Studies reveal that we tend to think we do more than we actually do. From professional activities to household chores, we all believe we are the driving force. But is this perception realistic?

Experience and selective memory lead us to overvalue our contributions and underestimate others’. Are we truly aware of our limitations and the greatness of others? Or are we simply trapped in a cycle of egocentric bias that distorts our reality?

In the journey to success, two crucial elements come into play: hard work and luck. Let’s examine two cases that strikingly illustrate how these factors shape our destiny.

Case 1: Country of Residence and Income
In the first case, birthplace emerges as a crucial determinant of income. Nearly 50% of the variation in global income is attributed to the country of residence. Take the example of Burundi, with a per capita gross income of only $730 per year. Here, hard work and talent are constrained by circumstances, and economic success becomes a true feat.

Case 2: World Athletics Records and NASA Astronaut Selection
In the second case, we observe how world athletics records and NASA astronaut selection highlight the duality between effort and luck. While world-class athletes exhibit dedication and exceptional skill, most achieve their records by leveraging favorable conditions such as a tailwind. Similarly, astronaut selection, where over 18,300 aspirants compete for only 11 positions, reveals that even with skills and effort, luck plays a crucial role.

In the workplace, luck can be a determining factor. A study reveals that in a random astronaut selection process, luck plays a significant role. How many business leaders acknowledge luck in their rise to success? Or do they cling to the belief that it’s all due to their ability and dedication?

Luck also extends globally. The country we are born in has a substantial impact on our opportunities and success. Are we truly aware of the influence of our birth circumstances on our path to success? Or do we prefer to attribute everything to our talent and effort?

In a competitive world, talent and hard work are essential, but luck also plays a key role. How much are you willing to acknowledge the influence of luck in your success? Or do you hold on to the belief that success is entirely attributable to your ability and dedication?

In Reflective Critique: Unmasking the Fallacy of Success


Accounts of privileged experiences and social studies expose an uncomfortable truth: the illusion of personal merit that many successful leaders maintain. Observing how those in positions of power behave raises an inevitable question: Is success really only the result of hard work and skill?

The survival bias that envelops successful leaders makes them blind to the reality of those who, despite working hard, have not achieved the same success. The distorted view of a fair world from their perspective influences policies and decisions affecting society as a whole. This tendency is reflected even in the discourteous and boastful behavior of privileged passengers in the executive or premier class, signaling a disconnect between status and humility.

The failure to recognize the influence of luck in success creates an unfortunate dynamic. The mistaken perception of less successful people as less hardworking or talented perpetuates inequality. Leaders, by attributing their success solely to hard work and cleverness, contribute less to maintaining the conditions that allowed them to succeed.

The good news is that recognizing luck in success not only aligns with reality but also increases empathy. Studies reveal that those who admit the role of luck are perceived as kinder. Awareness of fortunate events generates gratitude and ultimately contributes to a healthier social environment.

In the paradoxical advice for achieving success lies an essential truth: Believe in total control of our destiny but at the same time recognize the influence of luck. The responsibility that comes with success involves not only remembering the luck that played a crucial role but also working to increase the luck of others.

In a world where reality and perception collide, unraveling the complexity of success is essential. True greatness lies in humility, empathy, and the commitment to forge a path to success that is fair and accessible to all.


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