Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hard Work, Good Luck and Life's Potholes


The following is a reprint from Dr. Tom Hill’s Friday Ezine.  If you would like to read it and/or subscribe to it, you can at

The article was submitted by Mr. Dale Boozer.  He has a blog that you can access and/or follow at

I have added some personal notes at the end.

Hard work is not sufficient for success but it is necessary. Robert Frank, author of Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, in a recent discussion with Russ Roberts on EconTalk talks about why successful people are often reluctant to recognize the good fortune they have received. In regards to a question on the breakdown between hard luck and good luck Frank, a self-acknowledged lucky man, said: 

You know, I think it's good that people take pride in the fact that they are talented, that they worked very hard. It's not easy to work hard. That's almost implicit in the term: 'hard work' is hard. And you've got to get out of bed in the morning when you might not feel like it; you've got to tackle not just the tasks you really like to do but lots of unpleasant ones, as well. So, feeling proud of yourself for the fact that you worked hard: that's a good thing. Because pride is a motivator. It helps get you out there to confront the obstacles that, if you don't confront them, you are not going to succeed. So, yeah: this is not a human pathology, that I think we tend to remember why we succeeded in the ways that we do. But there are some negative consequences to it. I think people do not spontaneously tend to remember the lucky breaks they enjoyed along the way. 

The fact of the matter is we all make mistakes. We all face challenges. We all hit potholes along the way. Some are of our own making and some are due to simple dumb luck. However the correct response in either account is to keep plugging away. Fred Wilson at A VC drew this lesson from last weekend's Masters: 

And because golf is a microcosm of life, you can extrapolate this to everything that matters, your marriage, your family, your career, your reputation, etc. We are humans. We f*ck up. And when we do, we have to get up the next day and keep plugging away at the game of life. And the sooner we figure that out, the better off we all are. 

Josh Brown at The Reformed Broker notes how we all can expect some bad luck along the way. In that light bad luck does not discriminate. Brown writes: 

Every day we go out into the world to do what we're supposed to be doing. Good things happen to us, or we make them happen. Bad things happen too. Sometimes we deserve it because of how we're going about our day, usually we don't. It's unavoidable, in any case. Rich, poor, working, unemployed, black, white, Catholic, Jewish, young, old - everyone is in line for something, one of these days. And if the worst that happens is some damage to our cars, then we're the lucky ones. We get to take our little beating and move along.. 

We all take our beatings from time to time. Sometimes it comes at the hand of Lady Luck other times it is by our own hand. Rather than curse your fate the only positive step is to keep plugging away and hope the next time around luck is on our side.

Gymbeaux notes on the above article.  I totally agree with what is said and I would like to add the following regarding working hard.  In his book, Working Smart, Michael LeBoeuf talks about the difference between working “hard” and working “smart.”  He is NOT saying that working smart is not working hard.  Rather, working smart means working hard on the things that matter rather than just working hard on all things some that matter, some that don’t.  A lot of people do things to make them look as if they are working on things.  That is neither working hard nor working smart; it is simply keeping busy.  It also means that you may or may not be accomplishing anything of value; you are just keeping busy or you are checking off items on your To Do List that really do very little towards accomplishing your most important goals for the day, week, month, year and life.  It is a great read that I read many years ago and still remember the lessons today.

Gary Keller wrote The ONE Thing and the lesson I took from that book may be the best lesson of all.  We all have goals and desires.  Keller suggests that we always ask the question, what is the one thing that we need to do right now that if done all other things will simply fall into place?  In my opinion, that would be the difference between working hard on all matters of things as compared to working smart on the very few things that truly matter most and get you to where you desire to go.

Finally, Joe Tye has defined the best tool I have ever learned in regards to achieving your goals and/or becoming the best person you can possibly become.  It is called the Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) and is explained in his latest book Winning the War With Yourself.  It is so simple to use but extremely effective.  Let’s say you are in sales and you want to close $4,000,000 in sales for the year.  You simply ask yourself this question.  Is what I am about to say or do leading me towards my goal of closing $4,000,000 in sales this year?  If the answer is YES, you say or do it, if NO, you don’t!  Or you may want to reach a desired weight.  Is what I am about to eat or drink leading me towards my desire goal to weigh _____?  Or, is what I am about to say or do creating my best self?  It is simple, it works.  In my opinion this one technique helps you to achieve what Dale Boozer, Michael LeBoeuf, Gary Keller AND Joe Tye all suggest, we should be working smart and hard on things that matter most.