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:

  • 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.

  • 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.