Controlled Self-Deception

Being successful is mostly luck but working smartly (skill plus hard work) increases your luck. The trick is to balance intellectual honesty (it’s mostly luck) with controlled self-deception (success is due to skill and hard work). If you are too honest, you become pessimistic and if you’re too self-deceptive you get a false sense that everyone less successful is lazy or dumb.

Watch the video Is Success Luck or Hard Work?.

See also:

  • Holding Two Seemingly Contradictory Ideas in One’s Head

    There is tremendous power in being able to simultaneously hold two ideas in one’s head that appear to be in opposition. Contradictions can create boundaries on thoughts—it’s usually unpleasant to have cognitive dissonance—and can lead to dogma. I’ve found that being able to stick with it, despite the discomfort, can be very powerful.

  • Objectivity and Fallibility

    The fastest way to lose your objectivity is to lose your sense of fallibility. If you don’t think that you can be wrong, every decision you make feels right.

  • You Can’t Be Normal and Expect Abnormal Returns

    This quote by Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor at Stanford GSB, sums up the difficulty of achieving something different by doing the same things. You can apply this to “success” or any venture really. For example, it’s highly unlikely that Tony Hawk became the best skateboarder ever by living a conventional life.

  • Buy More Tickets to Win the Lottery

    An amusing talk by Darius Kazemi at XOXO, How I won the lottery, pokes fun at internet success and how we underestimate the role of luck. To win the lottery he says, buy more lottery tickets.

  • Taravangian Intelligence Test

    On one very special day, Taravangian was the smartest person in the world. In a single effort, he scrawled a codex that laid forth a plan to save the world that would make him king of all things. Unfortunately, he’s not always intelligent enough to understand his own plan.

  • Levels of Accountability

    Accountability is a distinguishing feature of progressing into leadership roles. As a general rule, moving “up” means more accountability. Being a high performing contributor means being accountable for yourself. Being a leader means being accountable for others. Being an executive means being accountable for what you can not control (e.g. the market). There are many counter examples where leaders are not held accountable or getting promoted doesn’t increase the level of accountability, but acting as a principal is still the best strategy.