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Luck, Fate or Hard-work?

Renuka Kamath

Author: Renuka Kamath

Date: Tue, 2017-09-05 12:13

She studied under the street lamp in the heart of a large city, where their home was temporary so it had no electricity. She got the time to study after she had helped her mother with her chores and that was after she got back from her evening school. 

He had a tough time deciding which bike to take to college, so he could ride the short distance between the college and hostel. His parents told him, he can choose one every month. After all he was going to get a fabulous job after graduating from one of the premier B-Schools.

He was one of the five children of a plumber, a family which believed girls and boys are equal. So, his unusual (in the context of the average thinking even in today’s day and age) parents decided to spend money on educating all children and struggled all the way.

Yet another story. An only child, her parents impressed upon her through her growing up years, that studying hard was the only way to achieving all that she aimed for.  She wanted to become a swimming champ, but her family insisted that there was no money in it and even if she did make it anywhere to the top, there was really no money or life.

All four of them are and were my students.

To all four and many more like them, I asked one common question, subtly meshing it into conversations. What do you think has played a major role in your life – luck, fate or hard-work?

It has always fascinated me, growing up in a middle class family, how luck, fate and hard-work are at times, pitted against each other. They almost seem to play hide and seek at different turns in our lives. I am not sure if you did, but I have often pondered about fairness in life.  I mean hard-work is good, but is it enough to get you what you want?

From the time of being a teenager, it has been a curious habit with me to ask people, interesting people, famous people, privileged people, the same question.  I’ve even asked people I’ve met, who have had extreme adversities in their lives and have been kind enough to humour me with an answer.

Relentlessly I have checked and keep doing so, each time I meet anyone who is even remotely fascinating, intriguing or an average person like me. Delicately bringing it up in conversations to get a peep into minds.

‘Hard-work’ cries everyone. Hard-work wins hand down! Well, yes, hard –work is the winner! And it has never stopped surprising me!

Folks with privileged upbringing who have likely had it all, to those who have fought all odds. Here at SPJIMR, I have the fortune of meeting and interacting with the current generation and this institute being the way it is (for years), brings together students with all types of experiences. So, while the proportions do vary, rare is the person who gives a higher weightage to luck or fate in their lives.

Or could it be that we are socially wired this way, to accept that it is the right thing to believe? Is it just too deeply entrenched in us…sown deep over the years, to say that ‘karma’ rules over ‘kismat’ or ‘bhaagya’. This write-up is not to go into the philosophical meaning or the deep-rooted understanding in our scripture, but to make an observation of how easily we slip into believing that we make our destiny.

Psychologists and social scientists have been researching this area of chance and luck in humans’ evaluation of their lives and outcomes, for years. ‘Individuals get rich primarily because they work hard’ is a statement more likely to be made by people with higher incomes (more privileged) than those with lower incomes (research at Pew Research Center). Other researches confirm that higher income people credit their success to hard work rather than to luck or even being in the right place at the right time. But research has its limitations - the whole tendency of ‘hindsight bias’, where we believe that a happening was predictable and deserved, even when it wasn’t, is difficult to control in experiments.  Hindsight bias is particularly glaring when the outcomes are highly successful.

Anyway I am no one to prescribe the right answer. What I do know is luck and fate played a major role in my life, and by far. I got the best set of parents anyone can wish for (like most of you), I got good schooling, I had a knowledge rich environment while growing up and all these shaped me.

So, on this occasion of Teachers' Day, my dear students, a word of caution from me – always be conscious of every privilege, every small privilege that life has doled out, for hard-work is a necessity and in your control, but luck and fate are not.

I firmly believe it all begins from being born in a ‘favourable’ environment. Would you agree?




Happy Teacher's Day Ma'am! Indeed a very interesting thought on the 'favourable environment'. I'm doing an online course on 'The Age of Sustainable Development' and was recently on a module that discusses social mobility across generations. One of the metrics that is tracked is the correlation of children's economic status against that of their parents. In unequal societies (high Gini coefficient) like the US, UK, this correlation is quite high. In Scandinavian countries, where the governments provide for education and health, this correlation is relatively lower i.e. higher intergenerational social mobility. So, while being born in a favourable environment is definitely a plus, governments can actively work towards creating that environment for all.

Yes, I think nothing else has a bigger impact on our life than our immediate environment. I can never be so many things because of the way I have been shaped by it, moulded by it. Also, if not for sitting in an air conditioned hostel room, I don't think I would have the privilege to make this assessment.

Renuka this is a great piece and I really enjoyed reading it. This is a pertinent question to ask as in our lives we come across instances of all these elements at work with very different results. I consider myself very privileged for having been exposed to the best of everything, starting with my childhood, schooling, marriage and then professional life. The best answer to this is given by Krishna to Arjuna is Gita. He says that there are 6 ingredients which lead to success and only one of them is luck; the others being the doer, the will to succeed, the intent, quantum of effort and the times in which we live! I wonder what will you say to that....

A very nicely written article Ma'am. Two points that I think everyone should note: 1. always be conscious of every privilege, every small privilege that life has doled out 2. I firmly believe it all begins from being born in a ‘favourable’ environment Shouldn't this favourable environment be a default for every citizen? Until such time every lucky individual should help create this for unlucky ones: -)

Happy teacher's day ma'am! The mention of hindsight bias and the role of chance reminded me of this xkcd comic! Hope you enjoy it. https://xkcd.com/1827/

A very nice read Mam ! I personally belive it is 99 % hardwork but that 1 % luck is extremely critical for success/ failure. Fate or Karma does determine which family / environment we get born into..... otherwise why are there so many unfortunate people on the streets who do not have even the basics of clean water to drink or the shelter from rain, forget about education. I agree we must stop begrudging our lives and have gratitutes for every small privilege we enjoy. Beautifully written.

Happy teachers day Mam! Very interesting topic mam and I am excited about Veera dixit's interpretation from Gita.isn't it most starkly portrayed in Arjun Vs Karan Vs Eklavya's characters,while two shared parents,other two shared a common guru but the one who got the best of all-parents, upbringing, education, environment and Krishna's blessings, was the ultimate winner and prevailed while other two perished. awesome thought provoking article mam, congrats for being our Guru even 12 yrs hence

Very interesting article Ma'am! However, there are umpteen examples to show that even if you are born in an "unfavorable environment", you can still achieve greatness! In fact most of the great stories are great only because the protagonist broke the unfavorable environment to create success!! Hard work and smart thinking leads them to find and unearth favorable environment on which they build success! So while I agree "born in favorable environment" will be a big plus, it need not be a necessary condition for success!

A thought provoking blog indeed ma’am. This question has been running in my mind for quite some time and the perspectives presented are real eye openers. In my opinion the question raised are more of a chicken and egg problem. The same can be questioned in 2 different ways. From a philosophical stand point, it can be argued that fate decides, what you have to be, creating situations directly or forcefully on a person to choose willingly or without an option (This part I would say is driven by luck) and from this point it’s the hard work that plays a role in making the person successful and as we know, success cannot be quantified and not a onetime thing, extended hard work helps the person in retaining the success. From an individual stand point, a person can argue stating that hard work is the prime reason for success and writing your own fate. The problem with this argument is, that the person is oblivious to the situations which has lead him/her to the goal they wanted to achieve. For example, the inspiring story of Jack ma (where in he was rejected by Harvard, the police department, KFC etc.) helps us to understand how several rejections had pushed in to the situation, which led to the birth of Alibaba indicates how fate forced misfortunes on him and led him to what he is today. If we look at another example, the life of Sachin Tendulkar, he always aspired to be a fast bowler and was rejected by Dennis Lillie at the MRF foundation. This rejection was a blessing in disguise for not only Sachin, but to the game of cricket. Most of the film stars today have come from a family, where someone in the earlier generations, was a famous personality in the film industry. For example, Abhishek Bachan, Shruti Hassan, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhat, Mahesh Babu, Surya and many more. Right from the childhood, they might have either have been inspired or motivated to choose the field. Again fate/luck plays a role in being born in such families, being inspired/motivated to choose the field. Unarguably, though to be successful in most of fields, hard work is the key. There are situations where, hard work is not at all required to be successful and its luck which plays a role, for example: Gambling, chance findings in some research fields etc. Even in sports/games, where hard work should decide success, luck plays a role. For example in cricket, who will bat/bowl first is decided by tossing a coin, when the scores are leveled, sometimes tossing a coin is used as a way to decide the result. If hard work alone is required for success, why is that everyone who works hard is not successful? This makes one to question and understand as well that it’s not only hard work, but luck also plays a role and more importantly fate decides on the opportunities to be provided which sometimes are discovered accidently and sometimes incidentally which upon grabbing, one works hard towards success.

Happy Teacher’s day ma’am. An intriguing piece of article I must say. It got me pondering over the interplay of luck, privilege and hard work that has defined every step of my life till date. Your allusion to Gita reminded me of yet another story from the text. Answering the question of which is superior- Fate or effort, Lord Matsya, an incarnation of Krishna, goes on to say that fate, effort and time conjointly affect one’s life. For example, A farmer’s crop yield depends on three factors – planting, rain and time. Planting is the effort and Rain is the luck. Perhaps we could take inspiration from your article and also include privilege as soil quality in the analogy. Therefore, if the farmer plants but it doesn’t rain, he’ll have no crop. Alternatively, if there is ample rain but he hasn’t planted, he’ll have no crop. Both fate and effort are important. Also, an important virtue is patience. Every effort requires time to yield returns and as a society I believe we are moving towards a culture of instant gratification, and this social design is causing our generation to move through life with a feeling of unfulfilled self-worth, be it professionally or in personal relationships. Soil quality indeed affects the crop yield, but with significant time and effort and with the right motivation, the farmer can improve the quality or grow crops according to the nature of the soil. As rightly mentioned in the blog, most people feel that the only determinant of success is hard work, and hence, tend to dismiss the factor of luck in the process. The person who gives in his everything and yet is unable to achieve success because of “bad luck”, experiences a sense of cognitive dissonance and a feeling of dejection. This causes a spiraling effect and the person loses motivation to work hard the next time. I believe that we should learn to accept the interplay of various forces in our lives and find contentment in the amount of effort that we put in and not in the achievement of end results. Hence, as individuals in pursuit of success we need to work day and night to sow the seeds, let the rains do its work and then wait for the time when the crop yields and ensure that the soil gets nourished year after year and judge your feeling of self-worth by the amount of effort put in to achieve a goal rather than the achievement itself.

Dear ma’am, it is indeed thought provoking to have come across your blog on the way people attribute their achievements to luck, fate or hard work. Like you, it has been a question I have revisited many times. It is indeed true, that most people have been wired to believe that hard work is the key to success. And why wouldn’t such be the case? It is deep rooted in our psychology right since school days when we were taught lessons on hard work (by every teacher, mentor or guide) - “No pain, no gain”, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” etc.. We cannot deny that the path to any kind of success comes through working hard. All our inspiration to study, learn or perform comes from the legacy that great men and women have left behind. The examples that they have set makes us wonder what made them who they are. In fact, when we do ask them how they got to where they are, why would they ever attribute their achievements to fate or luck? For example, a legendary sportsman has spent his life preparing for his sport- from diet to sleep schedules, everything he has done has probably been dedicated to focus on his goal. But my question is that what about the million others who have been as enduring and sincere? Don’t they work equally, if not more, to get to their goals? Perhaps, the answer for this lies in a combination of luck, fate, hard work and at least 5 more parameters. No, I don’t believe that it is 99% hard work which gets you to your happy place. If I work meticulously for days on end for a project that can land me a PPI for my dream company, I cannot say with 99% confidence that I will get it. But what I can say for sure is that if I don’t work for it, there’s a 99% chance that I won’t get it. In all effect, hard work is not an assurance for success. It is in fact, the necessary and limiting factor. Luck and fate go hand in hand. If you’re “meant to” do/be something, life seems to be showered with opportunities in the form of good luck. I believe that is the primary reason why luck is not a constant and you cannot depend on it. When you are meant to go a certain path, the right mentor, the right teammates and most importantly, the right physical and mental health are kind of available at your disposal. In the famous book “The Secret”, author Rhonda Byrne talks about how to create your own “luck”. By use of rationale, science and examples, she explains and justifies that if you think about something all the time, the universe bestows upon you, various ways to reach your destination. That is what luck means to me- the ease of success. The lesser obstacles in your path, the luckier you get.

I could relate totally to your blog ma'am and I am a firm believer of the philosophy: 'being at the right place at the right time'. Although from a middle class and conservative Rajasthani family, I have been privileged to be brought up in Mumbai where I had good luck by my side and by working hard, I was able to eventually achieve my goals. However, when I talk to my cousins in Rajasthan, I get surprised at the level of wisdom I get to see but the environment is such that most of the girls end up getting married early, leaving aise their jobs and aspirations and becoming mothers at an early age. I have pondered about this a lot and I believe a favorable environment is the first stepping stone that a child can get to grow in life. There is enough evidence around us to prove this. Thank you for the brilliant article.

Mam, it was a thought provoking blog. I agree that it is very rare that people give higher weightage to luck or fate in their lives. People believe that hard work will help them in achieving whatever they want. But this is not always true. I would like to give the example of Amol Mazumdar. He was the schoolmate of the legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and like Sachin Tendulkar, he was coached by Ramakant Achrekar. He did all the hard work, scored plenty of runs in first class cricket. In fact, when he retired from first class cricket, he was the highest run scorer in first class cricket. But still, he was never a part of Indian cricket team (be it Tests or ODIs). He was a middle order batsman and his contemporaries were Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman -the fabulous 4 of Indian cricket. During those times there was not a tournament like IPL (Indian Premier League), wherein he could showcase his talent on a huge platform. Maybe, if Amol was born in another country he would have got the same recognition as that of a legend of the game. Maybe, he was born in the wrong era. All this is nothing but luck or fate. I am sure that there would be many examples like that of Amol. We have to accept that luck plays an important role in determining our success, but that should not stop us from giving our best. I agree that being born in a “favourable” environment is always of an advantage but that is not the sole factor for being successful. It is our attitude that determines our success to a greater extent. A person with the right attitude will even take the unfavourable environment in his stride. I would like to give the example of the Indian Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He was born in Budhana, a small town of Uttar Pradesh. His parents were farmers and their economic condition was very humble. Although he was a graduate of National School of Drama, he had to survive by doing odd jobs such as that of a chemist and watchman. But he never compromised on his passion for drama. He did many plays, wherein he mastered his craft. Many people in the Indian film industry did not accept him due to his dark complexion. He was always side lined and he could only get small roles. He began with 20-second roles. His good performances in those 20 seconds helped him getting 5-10 minutes roles and eventually, he established himself as a versatile actor. Today we have many feature films, starring him in the lead. Nawazuddin often credits his humble background, the struggle of 10-12 years to his success. I believe that luck, fate and hard work are equally important for success. But what is essential is our attitude and persistence. There might be situations wherein we fail to achieve what we yearned to, but we must always have a positive attitude and continue with our hard work. We have to understand that we cannot achieve everything that we desire, but this realisation should not stop us from putting our best foot forward in every situation.

This was indeed a very riveting read Renuka ma’am. Thank you for bringing out the ideas of luck, fate and hard-work because I have long pondered on what importance each of these hold in life. For a very long time indeed, I have found myself wondering on whether luck and fate hold any major significance in situations. Not considering the alignment of the stars and moons that astrologer’s swear by and the lucky pen or shirt, does it really make a difference? This has been my question for a long time now. I have often reasoned with myself that it was because of luck or fate that things didn’t go my way. In this context, your blog has brought out an important factor that was probably latent in my mind for a long time. Hard-work has no substitute and it can never be replaced. If we want something then we need to work towards it. This is what I have always believed in. However, your concepts of ‘privileged upbringing’ and sticking to the societal norms of what is correct have given my thoughts new dimensions. Though I do appreciate my surroundings and the economic conditions in which I was raised, I do forget about its vitality most of the time. I am not always cognizant of it. This was the basic requirement that I needed. Anything over and above that is what I earn which is determined by my hard-work and to a certain extent on luck and fate as well, as you have well pointed out. What I do forget most of the times is that my basic needs are a luxury for so many around the world. Their life choices are vastly different from mine and though we may want to believe in equality, the reality is sad and harsh and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Your piece has made me think deep and hard into my own life and the privileges that come with it. I strongly believe in the concept of karma. In the world that we live in today; karma is the only thing that I can attribute all the misfortunes to. Again, this maybe my way of giving solace to myself because I have always been a spectator to such events and never really been amidst such harrowing experiences. As you put it so aptly, my ‘favourable environment’ has conditioned me to think a certain way and till now I considered that to be the correct way, rather the easier way. However, now that I think of such cases, I do believe there is something more than karma to all of this. It could be luck, fate or simply belief. Yes, hard-work is important but it is crucial to remember that the supporting factors also play a major role. The thresholds of bare minimums differ for everybody and I for one am grateful for mine. My telescopic view of the world is now starting to become kaleidoscopic in nature, as I push myself to think about the choices I have made so far and the factors leading up to it, hard-work definitely, but luck and fate too.

A very thought-provoking article ma’am. It really made me reflect on my life and feel fortunate about the things I had taken for granted till now. Luck has many interpretations. One way to look at it is that luck is something that happens to a person that is beyond his/her control. I believe that there are two kinds of luck. One is the luck related to the environment in which we are born and our genetic constitution (sometimes referred to as constitutional luck) and another kind of luck related to being at the right place at the right time (sometimes referred to as circumstantial luck). The former (constitutional luck) is often taken for granted; in fact, it is hardly ever acknowledged. However, I believe that it is this constitutional luck combined with hard work that plays a bigger role in a person’s success. Having constitutional luck is in no way a guarantee of success; you definitely need a lot of hard work along with it. At the same time, not having constitutional luck doesn’t mean that he/she can never succeed. In some cases, there can be a limit or a threshold to the magnitude of success that these people can reach. But, I believe that with hard work, they can at least make their world and their environment a better place than it was before. That indeed is a success. Usain Bolt was asked in one of his interviews ‘How did you become the fastest man in the world?’ to which he replied ‘I was fast from the beginning. For me sprinting was natural. I have focused on improving my speed. That’s all.’ An athlete who is genetically more fit to be a marathon runner rather than a sprinter cannot expect to beat Usain Bolt in a sprinting event. But, if he works hard, he can probably represent his country in an international event. And yes, that is a success for the person who hasn’t had a lot of constitutional luck! (in this case, a genetic constitution favoring sprinting) Now coming to circumstantial luck. I believe that having this luck can only result in short term benefits. In the long term, only hard work can lead to a sustainable success. So, I believe that the lack of acknowledgment of constitutional luck and the short-term impact of circumstantial luck is the reason why the concept of ‘karma’ ruling over ‘bhaagya’ is so deeply entrenched in us. We must never take for granted our constitutional luck (the article explains this with great efficacy) and never rely solely on circumstantial luck.

This article discusses the much-debated correlation of success with hard work, luck, and fate. An insightful article like this invigorated my thoughts on the same topic. The privileged section of the society gets the upper hand at opportunities and all it requires for them to grab it is hard work. On the contrary, sole hard work will not ensure laurels for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. This can be very aptly visualized by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While the privileged section starts from the third level, underprivileged still have to work their way through the first level. The article is a comprehensive account of personal experiences as well as the scientific researches. The article very rightly brings out the point that there are factors that are in our control and some which are beyond. There can be two approaches to this discussion. One is the rational approach where we analyse the facts objectively like it is done in this article. The second approach can be an irrational one, which I believe is being adopted by the majority, and leave everything to subjectivity. Bringing a different school of thought in the same discussion we can debate about the achievement of success and the acceptance of success. In our country, while still a lot of people debate about hard work being the essential element in the recipe for success; there is still ample amount of ignorance about the impact of the social setting in the lives of people. Over the past couple of years, we have seen numerous incidents where the success of individuals belonging to the lower strata of the society was not very well received. Success brought them to the limelight and exposed them to the vulnerability at the hands of the so called social-law-enforcers. Incidents like these force us to think; is the success by sheer hard work not even worthy of praise? Why would anyone want such a success where it makes him more socially vulnerable? While the Indians still struggle to shun the tag of a third world country, the prevalent social stigma still pulls us down. Why do we need to brand a xyz IAS qualifier as a rickshaw-puller’s son and not know him by his name, his hard work and dedication? Are we still more concerned about the fate that such people enter this world with? Our economy liberalized in 1991. Do we need a similar phenomenon like liberalization of society as well? Is our society really progressive or regressive? These thoughts will take us to another dimension of discussion.

Dear Ma’am It might be either because of a few personal experiences I have had or might be because of the emotional quotient attributed to this blog that I found this write-up appropriate for pondering over. Time and again, I have asked this same question to myself. Was it my luck that I did not get admission in SRCC, or was it my hard work that I, now, have made it to SPJIMR? While I was reading this blog, I could recall the hard times I have been through. Day in and day out I worked extremely hard to get admission in India’s most coveted college of commerce, SRCC. Given the academic record I maintained during my school days, not only my parents but my teachers and the principal also pinned such high expectations. That was when I thought that it would be a strong head-start to my career, that was when I thought that I was just a step away from fulfilling my dreams and that was when I thought that I would make my parents extremely proud of my such an exceptional achievement. The unexpected happened. Having scored the least in the subject I had a good command on added to my woes. And that was when my world collapsed and my dreams shattered. For innumerable nights, I kept thinking what was it that I had missed while preparing for my examinations? Was it that I was not completely dedicated, or was it because I did not deserve to be a part of such a reputed college? They say, “Work smart, not merely hard”. So was it that I was less smart than my peers? My questions remained unanswered. I got a pat on my back from my principal for having worked extremely hard, but no one could answer that one question that why not SRCC? This is when I realised if one attributes even 99.99 per cent of one’s success to working hard; it is 0.01 per cent of luck that must be attributed to. And this 0.01 per cent is all that makes one to go from nadir to zenith. It took me months to muster all my courage. Life seems hard when you fail knowing how hard you have worked for that one dream. This is what my opinion is, and this is where I beg to differ from the majority of population. Luck, fate and hard-work all of these parameters play a really significant role in one’s life. Ending this on a quite positive note, I would say, what I have learnt from both my bitter and good experiences is that all things eventually fall into place. It is just the attitude that matters in the times of adversity. Only that makes a difference. Only that gives or not gives you the courage and strength. To a few, this might sound banal and clichéd, but life got easier the day when I made this phrase the principle of my life ‘Whatever happens, happens for a reason’. Not to forget, perceptions are bound to be different. Also every failure and success have great things to offer in terms of experience, learning skills, competencies and much more.

Thank you, mam, for giving words to my feelings. I completely resonate with this article. As it’s rightly said, “You are the master of your destiny” and whatever change you want to bring in your life it will solely depend on you. But what happens when we give our 100 percent to a thing and we are not able to perform on “The Day”? All our hard work goes in vain in just wink of an eye. A certain amount of luck is always in action and as you have rightly mentioned that if we are not present at the right time at the right place then we cannot change things. I feel in today’s world we have started stereotyping every one’s success to luck. People judge others for being lucky but never ask them how many times they have failed to reach the pinnacle of success. Some people enter into IIMs because of reservation and the others who really deserve going there, don’t even get a chance. It’s quite surprising to imagine what happens in the long run? If they don’t perform well and work hard to sustain in a premier B-School, does their luck help them to sail through? My father is a professor so all my life I have always been career oriented. I worked really hard in 12th standard and also got good results, but situations were such that I couldn’t get the college of my choice for Engineering. I analyzed what went wrong and ended up blaming my fate and luck. I thought that I worked hard but I didn’t question myself whether it was enough? When things go right we give credit to our hard work and when they fall apart, our fate is all that we blame. But we need to realize one fact that if we are determined and can cross boundaries to get what we desire, then nothing can stop us from achieving success. As Paul Coelho has rightly said “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. So, then I decided to plan for my Post Graduation, I was determined that I wanted the best B-School without doing any compromises this time. I worked day in and day out to achieve what I wanted. The end result was I ended up in my dream college, that is SPJIMR. But still, I am confused should I give credit to my hard work or the situations were just right this time and I got lucky?

Thank you, ma’am, for an amazing article on the most commonly argued reason for success or failure. It is indeed difficult to generalize the definition of success or failure. There have been many researchers who studied the correlation between luck, fate and hard work by understanding the human psychology. There are many psychologists that say, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, or luck and hard work both go hand in hand. According to me, luck, fate and hard work are enablers of success and not “the” reason for it. It largely depends upon how an individual makes most of the opportunity that he gets - viz. adverse or favourable. They say opportunity knocks the door. Whereas in my opinion opportunity needs to be created by utilizing our skill sets and will power. For instance, a poor guy who knows how to make delicious “Vada Pav” struggles to put up a stall for “Vadapav”. He is creating an opportunity for his living. He is utilizing it to shape his future as a successful businessman. Famous personalities like Dhirubhai Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Narendra Modi etc have started their career with an opportunity enabled by hard work. Luck and fate are defined by the third person. The third person might as well categorize that the privileged ones as lucky whereas the underprivileged ones as unlucky. Generally, successes are related to luck and failures are related to fate. But opportunities are never talked about. The level of hard work one must do to achieve his success depends upon the will power of the person. There are many ups and downs in life. But one must always try to look out for the opportunities that lie in them. One might, however, argue here saying that what if the person is willful of achieving his dreams and has put in a lot of hard work but still fails! I would like to relate this to the talks of very renowned Guru of nondualism – Nisargadatta Maharaj who says, “Nothing is done by me, everything just happens I do not expect, I do not plan, I just watch events happening, knowing them to be unreal”. Sometimes it becomes immensely important to accept the fact that our decisions might go wrong or our opportunities might not turn up in a way we want. We ideally should start venturing into new opportunities rather than labeling these incidents as an outcome of luck or fate. This requires optimism towards life so that we do not end up being depressed just because we do not have luck, fate or lack of hard work. There are many opportunities out there and we must grab them. Hence, seizing opportunities and giving your best performance with an optimistic attitude defines your success on its own.

Ma’am this is a very good article. Yes it is true that we are brought up in a society which always dictates the importance of hard work in determining success. While hard work do contribute to success, it is not necessarily equal to success. It is those stories of some successful people that reinforces our belief in hard work. A lot of people work hard but all of them are not necessarily successful. So how is hard work = success? It got to me thinking about my own experiences throughout my life. I have met so many people who worked a lot harder than me but could not reach the zenith they aspired. It then boils down to fate and opportunities. The circumstances in which you are born to a great extent determines your success along with hard work. Many at times we find a mediocre person making something big and we feel frustrated. Therefore luck plays an important role in creating a good environment and you have to work hard to make the best out of it. I was lucky to be born in a very supportive family who would stand by me in whatever decisions I make. This is not a choice I made but it is something that was blessed. To say that my achievements in life is a result of my hard work and nothing else would show my ignorance. All my choices and resultant successes were all the functions of both luck and fate however all of them was fuelled by hard work. I was lucky enough to be born in a very supportive family who would stand by me in whatever choices I make. When everyone around me was choosing Science as their stream, I chose commerce, a decision I never regretted. Obviously my parents were apprehensive about my choice but never did they doubt me. After my college, I decided to not accept an offer from a reputed company and instead decided to join a start-up which again got my family support. Even my choice of doing an MBA is shaped by my fate of being born into an upper-middle class family. During my Abhyudaya visit, I realised the stark reality of existence of haves and have nots. My mentee is an intelligent 11th standard student who is passionate about both studies and sports. However his parents on the other hand though being supportive can’t afford to pay for both of his interests. My mentee, even though has the will to work hard, will find it hard to reach the desired state unlike any other student (with similar level of hard work) who is blessed with all the luxuries of life. Personally I believe that hard work increases the chance of success. While I subscribe to this viewpoint, I am also aware of the deviant possibilities that lies beyond my control which is influenced by both luck and fate. Once you accept this reality, then you will be ready to face any failures without losing motivation. So one must always work hard but should also have that psychological grounding. And yes to anyone who asks me how would I explain my success, I would say that I worked hard but I was also lucky… Happy Teacher’s Day Regards, Vijay Rajendran

Many a times what happens is, we tend to look at the success stories and comment that it is hard work which is important. Most of times being in right place at the right time is important which can be attributed to luck. I think that there were people who have worked harder than me but haven't achieved and after looking the reasons it is seen that the prominent one was luck. Obviously, I have only the academics to compare till now but if hard work is the major factor, why isn't it equitable in academics? The topics from which exam questions are asked are beyond our control, the examiner's mindset, the interviewer and the way he ask questions are beyond our control. Doesn't it mean that most of things which are important for the starting point of our career are based on luck? It can be argued by saying that we must be prepared for everything but it doesn't work like that. We tend to be strong in some areas and weak in some. So if the questions are asked from the part you are weak at then wouldn't it be blamed that you were unlucky that day? There have been instances when I feel that I was unlucky as compared to my peers and lucky during some. It can be seen that luck works as a bell curve most of the times, so we always know that we won't be unlucky always. It is often said that world is unfair so that means by default there will be some factors beyond our control. But as Krishna states in Bhagwat Gita, focus should be on learning and enjoying the process, the results will take care of themselves. In the long term, we always know that somewhere someplace this work will benefit you So even if we sometimes fail, I think it is imperative to not blame our luck but look at the benefits and keep on working towards what we believe is our goal. Sometimes during this journey we may end up at a point that gives us satisfaction.

A great title and a wonderful summary justifying the same, ma'am. I really liked the sentences where you explained the hide and seek played by luck with hard work and fairness. Your blog made me think deeply about little things I am fortunate to have every day but don't acknowledge. Recently, I came across an adult with downs syndrome in a super market. He was bagging the groceries. He was very slow in doing that due to his disability and people waiting in lines got extremely impatient. It showed a lot about the world we live in rather than the person with the disability. Anyway, it reminded me that our relationship with luck and fate start even before we take birth. It can be by pure luck that you are born healthy and it will be decided when we are at the fetus stage. And then this relationship with luck and fate continue to decide the nature of the family we are born in and the type of upbringing and the kind of environment we are going to stay in for the next few years. Only at some later point in our life will we be able to make an impact with our hard work. But still, luck will keep playing its role. For without a little uncertainty involved, we humans as a species are really good at extracting success as a mathematical function of hard work and using it to serve our own selfish ends. So, I think luck also acts as a deterrent for self-destruction to human beings. Awareness about the role that luck plays in my life also helps in keeping me grounded and humble. On a secondary note, however, I do disagree with people who resign their life to fate and let go of control. It just makes the person feel that he is a part of something miserable that he has to endure till the end of life. That line of thinking will also be used by some people to rationalize lazy behavior that it was just fate and they are not born with enough talent. While there’s some truth to the fact that everyone doesn’t have same IQ and talents, it is also equally true that many people don’t give their best shot and try to rationalize failure with the role played by luck and fate. Another interesting take on this topic is given by a research done by Sigmund Freud. His data show that people who believed that they had good luck tend to be happier and had a more positive outlook towards life and whereas people who believed they are stuck with bad luck tend to be gloomier, have a negative outlook towards life and have frequent mood swings. I think one can never arrive at a definitive conclusion about which of the three plays a bigger role in one’s life among luck, fate and hard work. It was a great read ma’am. Will be looking forward to reading more of your blogs

Congratulations ma’am for writing such a thought provoking article. I could immediately connect with your article because lately, I have been asking similar questions to myself. I believe one of the most important and often a most underrated quality of successful and respected people is humility. It is extremely important to be constantly cognizant of our origins because it keeps us humble, irrespective of whether we landed in a privileged family or a modest one. After getting selected in SPJIMR, I attributed all my success to my own hard work but some self-reflection made me realize that my success had a lot to do with the chance or rather gift of being born to my parents. I wasn’t worried much about financing my MBA, leaving my job, or supporting my family while preparing for the exam, leading to better performance. The quality of my hard work would have dramatically changed if I had different parents. Furthermore, an aspect which I believe should be thoroughly ingrained during the formative years of a child’s education is fundamental antipathy towards “taking things for granted”. I know people in my family circle who have repeatedly provided more to their children than is required. You would agree that such a behaviour warrants a sense of entitlement in the minds of such children; they come to believe that their surroundings work the way they want them to and as a result, their delicate bubble of a false world view bursts at the first troubled interaction with the real world. Both teachers and parents have an allegiance to impart a sense of modesty in their children, who should understand that hard work is a given and that their superior performance might just be because of “Luck”. When one becomes aware of self, he tends to appreciate the privileges which he has and others don’t and when this happens, a person becomes more empathetic. The world needs more empathetic people – wouldn’t you agree? Here I am not trying to discount the importance of hard work. Any person, whether born in a favourable environment or in a challenging one has to work hard to gain success. However, the extent of work might vary, often because of the conditions one was born into. As unfair it might seem, this is the way life is. One has to capitalize on the resources one has and work towards the goals. I also do not want to completely propagate the idea that if two people from opposite ends of economic strata are working equally hard, then the person from the privileged family will invariably do better than the other. I have several examples to substantiate my point and the most obvious one is that of Dhirubhai Ambani, who despite coming from humble origins built one of the largest business empires in India. What shall we attribute his success to – hard work, luck, perseverance, intelligence, smartness or destiny? Success is definitely an outcome of several factors. At best, we can just be humble about it.

Dear Ma’am, thank you for sharing your views on the much debatable topic of all the times, ’Whether success depends on luck/fate or hard work?’ To the majority, the answer has always been hard work and it is one’s efforts that bring him success not luck. Because you can change your destiny with your hard work, that is how the society is coded to think like. It is indeed an undenying fact that hard work will only take you up the ladder of success and there have been numerous examples of successful people who have attributed their victory to sheer patience and hard work. Luck is often perceived to be the result of hard work, you get lucky only when you work hard. If its luck that got you success then people will stay idle, waste their time in unconstructive things believing that their fate will bring laurels to them. Apparently there is a thin line between success and luck. Some people argue that through their work, they make their own luck but believe it or not, it also depends on the kind of environment you are born in. The factor of luck comes to play its role here to decide the right place and the right time for you to make use of the right opportunity and turn that opportunity into success through hard work. Sometimes, I have come across people who say that they have achieved things very easily in life without putting in much efforts, that a streak of luck followed them. If I compare a kid from an affluent family with access to all the available resources vis a vis a kid from a slum area who makes use of meagre resources to the best of his potential and toil day in day out then there is certainly fate governing the lives of both. And their success stories will have different components of luck, fate and hard work which favoured them to reach that stage. It is a matter of perception. A lot of successful people often say that hard work played a major role in making them what they are today. But there is something they often miss out, that in the process their luck filters were already turned on from the place they were born in, the kind of people they were surrounded with, the variety of resources available to them and the mentors who guided them throughout their journey. Luck here means the circumstances which are outside your control. Having said that ,success really depends on your mind set, whether you seek positivity in things and move ahead or sulk at your fate and blame external environment for your failure. It is very much evident in the lines that “Hard work puts you where good luck can find you”

Ma'am thank you for composing such a magnificent piece whose answer still remains a puzzle and is interested in a ton of elucidations. Well what exactly is luck? “Is it the extra marks that you scored and managed to pass in an exam in which you were barely able to write anything?”, “Is it the gratitude that you felt being born without any defects on seeing a disabled man?” or the gratitude you felt on surviving a terrorist attack? Well the answer seems obvious, isn’t it? Luck in its all might plays an invisible hand in all the events happening around you. I have a personal take on it too. With scarcely figuring out how to score the imperative slice off required to get a call from SPJIMR, I had surrendered. But, luck played its part and I ended up scoring 96% in XAT and making it to the 1st list of SPJIMR. Well it wasn’t just luck, fate and hard-work played their parts too. Its rightly said nothing worth having comes easy. And we have plenty of examples to look at. For e.g. Dhirubhai Ambani who started as an oil operator but went on to build the largest privately-owned enterprise in the country. He wasn’t lucky enough to be born in a privileged family but his hard-work paid off and he became the richest Indian. I have seen individuals offering scraps set up fruitful organizations, individuals acting as assistants getting to be directors, and so on and one inquiry that goes to our psyches is that "whether they were fortunate to make it and survive?" or was it years of diligent work and consuming the midnight oil that put them where they are. We are so entwined in the race to succeed that we forget the very factors that played an important role. Luck is like a coin-toss- the person you took granted today could turn out to be the only one person you will need tomorrow.I have a different take on hard-work though. It works in tandem with smart work. Highly successful people credit their success to not just hard-work but working smartly and more efficiently than others. These are the people who chased perfection, because when you keep chasing perfection, somewhere on the way you will achieve excellence! As it is said, “There will be obstacles; there will be doubters; there will be mistakes; but, with hard-work there are no limits.” This entire take on being lucky enough to make it big seems superfluous because it is like an Iceberg Illusion. They only see the brighter side but not the rough hands that got you there because success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, but it comes from what you do consistently. I am fortunate enough to have luck and fate provide me with amazing opportunities and working hard every day to achieve those goals and having a sense of relief.

This article by Dr. Renuka Kamath addresses a pertinent question that is so relevant in today’s times. The competition and stakes are so high to succeed that everyone wants to find the answer to the question as to what would play an important role, hard work, luck or fate. While everyone would agree and as is suggested in the article that hard work triumphs over the latter two. But this is the case only when people succeed. They try to associate their success to the work they have put in and reap all the credits. But if the same person was asked to associate his/her failure with these three factors, he/she would most likely blame it on luck or fate. I feel both these reactions aren’t necessarily different from each other. Because in both cases people are cozying up to the fact that they are right in their way, be it in their successes, or associating failures to external factors. While the former thought may not be that detrimental the latter would be. Trying to cover up one’s failure would not only hamper our chance to bounce back it would also seriously affect our morale. When we succeed it would not be completely right to associate it all to hard work alone. While I do agree that hard work is important but it’s not the only factor. The conditions could have been in our favour or it just could have been sheer luck that played a role. A cricketing analogy would help us understand this better. Say Kohli scores a ton at home and later scores one in an overseas tour. Both were due to his hard work. But the conditions at home were favourable, so he’s likely to score more tons at home than away. Doesn’t mean that he didn’t work hard during his overseas tour. Also, there could situations where he was dropped by the opposition giving him a “chance” to score a ton. This shows that there could be many factors playing a role, it’s important to recognize these factors which help us succeed. This exercise would serve us well even during our failures. One will not always succeed in life, there are bound to be failures and it follows the law of averages. So, having an understanding of all these factors would help us handle our failures well. Hard work alone sometimes may not suffice to ensure one’s success. It becomes essential to understand that things don’t always work out. We need to accept it and move on. The only thing that’s in our hands is the will to continue despite of the failure, with a hope that eventually all the hard work would bear fruit. In order to have a truly objective view we must take into consideration all the factors that are contributing to our success as well as our failures. Also recognize that coming from a favourable background plays a role and it’s a privilege that we must aware of. This will help us to have a more balanced view in life and filter out most of our bias.

Luck or Hard Work? This has been a constant question mark in my life: pre and post every task I do. The idea is beautifully woven by Renuka Ma’am highlighting the essence of Hard Work and also accepting how luck has been an asset in her personal life. There is no denying the fact that hard work and determination to achieve a target has always helped a person move towards that direction. What has made me wonder is it enough for one to reach the desired destination? In my quest to understand the ingredients to succeed, I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The author propagated the idea that 10,000 hours, which says you need at least 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. He emphasizes that this idea is a myth. The book is trying to convey that working hard helps only when you have certain threshold levels of talent, practise and education. Thus, I would like to visualise the concept as hard work being the force which makes the water flow but it is the very nature of water that determines if it can be fluid enough to flow. This elementary nature of the person is shaped by the situations which is dependent on your luck and fate. We have infinite examples of exemplary achievers like mathematician Aryabhata, sprinter Usain Bolt, Ingenious Steve Jobs and many others. All these people were born with a talent and introduced training at an early age. We may find it dispiriting but when we think about the top 1% of 1% profession it shows some portion of lady luck involved. This however shouldn’t stop us from working hard as we can still achieve great things in life and also we never know what secret ingredient we imbibe. Most of the people give up too early or do not even try everything they possibly can because they think it’s already futile. We should never let that thought process prevail over the power of “Karma” theory. As mentioned in the last paragraph that being aware about the privileges one get and acknowledging the same is crucial. It not only makes us feel equipped enough to win but also motivates us to utilise the resources we have got to be a winner. Also, not forgetting the importance of the controlled factor hard work which drives you to the peak point of victory. I totally agree with the question raised towards the fag end of the write-up that being born in a “favourably ambient” environment helps one go a notch ahead than others provided he/she doesn’t lose sight and pursue undying hard work to reach the top of the game. It was indeed a pleasure reading your piece addressing one of the greatest mysteries of mankind and success. I could very well connect to the writing and the instances quoted of students from different walks of life. The way the topic is manifested using the insights from SPJIMR teaching experience and other immense exposure that Ma’am beholds is intriguing. Hoping to get opportunity to have many such discussions in our classroom soon.

Indeed Renuka Ma'am, I totally concur with your perspectives. One ideal condition or an exceptional privilege brings about an extraordinary change in your life. Give me a chance to take you through a tale of a girl, who is very close to me and is also a SPJIMR student. She was born in an affluent family with all the essential privileges. She put stock in extraordinary hard work and exceeded expectations in facets of her life. She was firm about her career path right from the nascent years of her life. Her career path was as clear as a crystal. She wanted to complete her BCOM, MBA and then start her own venture. Little did she know that her life was going to take a surprising turn? She came across a situation of some grave financial issues. The only thing in front of her was, to take up a career which can fetch her some money. She had to financially support her parents. She took science and got herself admitted to an engineering college. This was never a piece of her arrangement. The only thing she now thought of was how to get a high paying job. After the 4 years of hard work, she managed to get the highest paying job from her college. All the situations in the workplace were also against her. "You are hired, because you are diverse candidate", these were the comments showered on her during her stint at the workplace. She had only one asset, and that was a huge support from her family. She had accepted this way of her life. She was trying hard to climb up the ladder during her professional stint, but things were not in her favor. As it is rightly said, "bhagwan ke ghar der hain, andher nahi". And one final day, something unusual happened and she got a chance to live her dream of doing an MBA. She worked hard for all the exams and got a call from SPJIMR. And now she is a proud student of SPJIMR. Luck does not favor throughout your life, but when it does you should make the full use of this opportunity. In the end I would like to quote the words of Darrell Royal, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity".

This blog is an interesting take on why certain people find success while some may not reach the same heights. Even I believe this is the culmination of these three factors- luck, fate, and hard work. However, I hold a slightly different opinion as to the extent to which these impact the chances of success. I believe that self-serving bias is inherent in each and every one of us i.e. our tendency to blame external factors when we fail, while pat our own shoulders and forget the external environment when we succeed. That’s why if we succeed, it’s the result of our hard work, but if we fail it was just luck or chance or fate. We find it hard to accept that perhaps we didn’t put in enough efforts to succeed. On the other hand, people looking in from outside are more likely to attribute one’s success to luck or fate and come up with statements such as ‘oh but he’s so lucky, he has had everything sorted for him in life, of course he got into SPJIMR’. They are unaware of the months of hard work I put in to reach where I am. Blessed are those who are born in privileges, like me, who do not have to struggle for the basic necessities in life. I was blessed to be born in a loving and caring family, to parents who were progressive and open. Being brought up in a socially and financially well settled family did smoothen the road for me to a certain extent and while I am extremely thankful for that, I am in no way complacent because of it. I still know that I need to work as hard as I can and make a place for myself in society. This is because I believe that if there is one factor that has the power to overshadow the others, it is hard work. Yes, my environment and background helped me succeed and perhaps meant I did not have to work as hard, but this in no way implies that someone coming from a different (less privileged) background cannot reach the same heights as me. It all comes down to the will and determination of a person and the amount of effort they are ready to put to achieve their goals. We hear several inspirational stories of people coming from the lower rung of the social pyramid rising from their deplorable states to new heights of success on the basis of their grit and hard work. Even on a personal level, I could observe this when as a part of the Abhyudaya program I became a mentor to a child coming from a less privileged background and when I met others who came from similar backgrounds but have shown the will to improve along their career paths and their conditions. Such inspiring stories reaffirm my faith in the power of a person to mould their own destiny. In the end, I would like to just say that yes luck helps, but don’t despair if life doesn’t seem to be favouring you. You have the power to turn it around through your determination, will power and hard work.

Dear Madam Renuka, thank you very much for your article. I can relate it to a lot of my life experiences and just like you even this thought has crossed my mind time and again that is it really just hard work that leads to success as popularly believed or something beyond that. One thing that I truly enjoyed is the striking conclusion that you furnished alongside tossing an inquiry to the readers to think upon. In my opinion it is more of smart work rather than hard work with a little flavour of luck and timing that makes all the difference. It is about constantly keeping your eyes wide open looking for opportunities, trying out new things and you may never know what clicks. I would like to cite an example from my personal life here. After my 12th board exams I decided to give a shot at AIEEE exams. There was a trade-off between preparing for local GUJCET or this. I decided to go for both, let’s experiment. To my surprise with just one month of a crash course I managed to get an AIR of 6879. There was indeed a bit of luck factor involved as the first paper of AIEEE exam got leaked and they had to delay it a bit and conduct it with an alternative paper. The 2nd paper was relatively easier. This decision of mine to appear for AIEEE when all others suggested otherwise made all the difference to my career. If it was not for my courage to try it out, grab the opportunity and make the smart I wouldn’t be where I am now. Hence I believe it is this ability to be proactive and make smart choices that can impact your life. As far as role of family background and environment you’re born and brought up is concerned , I can sight a ton of examples namely Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anupam Kher who were not from affluent or very well to do families still made big in life. Indeed it was a tough path for them, I don’t deny that. It could have been a lot easier for them if they were sons of some film star or a prior cricketer to get to a position where there are now but that’s not the major factor. Nawazuddin Siddiqui kept working as side kick & doing & petty roles for 10 long years in Bollywood before his movie “Gangs of Wasseypur” kicked off. Often he was mocked at for his complexion, appearance and roles he played in his initial career. However it was his persistent efforts without losing enthusiasm that paid off. The key quality that made these personalities succeed was passion and conviction to follow their dream which supersedes all other factors. Thus summing it up I earnestly believe that it is all about making smart choices and persistent efforts towards your goal which plays major role in shaping your career as well as your life.

Thank you for this wonderful post ma’am. We all have the habit of cursing our luck and destiny every time things go downhill and glorify the hard-work we put in post our achievement. We all have faced situations when we felt we were unlucky to not get the desired results and some situations when we got more than we deserved. I completely agree with what you said about ‘Luck, Fate, and hard-work’ all playing a role in one’s life and that there is no right answer or an ultimate reason for one’s success or failure. I would like to go a step further and add what I have grown to believe. No matter the reason(s) for our past, present and future situation, the first and the most important step is to acknowledge it. Humility is what defines us. Be it hard-work or sheer luck, a person gains respect only if he displays genuine modesty. The gratitude, you talk about, for the ‘favourable’ environment is what made me relate to the blog. I am a staunch admirer of Rahul Dravid. At the time when Sachin Tendulkar ruled world cricket and Dravid was considered ‘too slow’ for limited over cricket, my admiration for him still grew. I watched him conduct himself on and off the cricket field. Many sports journalists and ex-cricketers have opined that he was not as talented as many other cricketers of his time but achieved success purely based on hard-work and perseverance. People who follow cricket religiously will agree that Rahul Dravid never had anything easy. He had to prove his worth at every stage of his career. Post his retirement he is one of the most talked about ex-cricketer. The reason is the respect he gained during his active years as a cricketer and a captain. He always praised the team for his success and took the blame for his team’s failure. In an interview when asked ‘What made you an Achiever?’, he said, ‘Luck…and determination to make that luck work’.  If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard-work, talent, and luck. I believe there is the fourth ingredient in this ‘success recipe’ and that is the character. The way you gain success is as important as how you behave once you have succeeded. It all starts by acknowledging those who have helped and shaped us. It is true that we always rate hard-work higher than luck or fate. In the practice of Buddhism, it is said that if you genuinely care and pray for others, people root for your success and support you in the times when you least expect it. You can, after all, make your own luck. Or can we? The question just starts a never-ending cycle of arguments. The first step, as ma’am you rightly pointed out, is to acknowledge that we are born in a ‘favourable’ environment and hard-work is all that’s under our control.    

The blog is very thought provoking and captivating. It made for a very enjoyable and refreshing read. I have always received interesting and differing views from people on this widely debated topic of “What is more important: Hard-work or Luck?”. Some people firmly believe that it is the daily grind and efforts that have enabled them to reach the summit, while some people believe that good fortune and chance are the factors responsible. Based on my life experiences and belief I think “luck and fate” are indispensable for success. I do not deny that hard-work is a prerequisite for achieving any goals and objectives, however it is luck that transforms our life. I was the topper of my college in graduation examination. I did not achieve this by not working hard and practicing adequately. However, I wasn’t the only one who had worked hard. In fact, some of my friends had worked harder than me and deserved this rank more than me. There were other external factors that lead to this outcome, which I would like to call luck and fate. Like you have mentioned that a favourable environment, is from where it all begins, I completely agree with it. I have observed a few times that some people have been bestowed with amazing opportunities in life, not because of hard-work but only because of knowing the right set of people, by being at the right place at the right time. Thus, I believe that life is not always fair. According to me the perceptions for believing in luck and hard-work are based on the psychological theory of locus of control. People with internal locus of control would attribute success to hard-work and those with external locus of control would attribute it to luck and fate. My tendency is to attribute most successes to luck which is external and failures to my internal locus of control. This helps me to be humble during successful events and improve myself in case of failure. As mentioned in the blog, this enables me to be conscious of every small privilege that I have had and appreciate it. While we tend to always compare ourselves with people that have better things than us, I think it is important to be mindful of those people as well who do not get adequate opportunities due to their environment. While the blog focuses on hard-work and fate, I think another important factor to be considered is “choices”. I believe that in life, our hard-work and fate takes us to a decision point. Fate offers us with choices, and success is dependent on our ability to take the right decisions and then work hard to achieve our goals. We should work hard for things under our control, however it is critical to be aware of elements like fate and luck which are not in our control. As Oprah Winfrey succinctly says, “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity”.

It was 1st Feb, 2017 around 2pm : I entered the interview room at YMCA, Delhi for SPJIMR Group-2 interview and the first two questions that were asked to me were – ‘what do you think luck or hard work helped you clear round-1 interview’ and ‘do you think life is fair’. Since then I have wondered if there is a right answer to these questions because I feel their answer varies in different situations and for different people like for Abhinav Bindra winning the Olympic Gold was 99% luck and 1% hard work whereas for Gary Player it is his 100% hard work that was responsible for his success. Thank you ma’am for sharing your take on this and making me reflect upon this. As you mentioned “Hard-work cries everyone” when you ask people this question, my reply too was on the same lines and I feel there are several reasons for this. First, since childhood we are taught that ‘Hard work = Success’. Be it in studies or sports, the harder you work, the better are the results. Because of this conditioning, hard work takes the front seat most of the times. Luck comes into the picture only when the odds are totally against us but we somehow succeed. Like when we don’t know the answers in an MCQ paper but the options that we mark randomly turn out to be the right answers. Second, there is always a fear of being judged if we start accepting our success more because of luck and less of hard work. People around you start questioning your capability and judge your work negatively. Third and the most important reason, I feel if we start giving luck more weightage than our hard work then that might lead to us leaving things to our fate and not put in enough efforts. Because of the above reasons I think we have been undermining our luck but it is important to be conscious and appreciative of that. It was our good luck to be born with the privileges in life like our families, education, good health, opportunities we got etc. We didn’t do any hard work to get these. So as I see it, it is the right combination of hard work and luck that defines success. So while we should acknowledge luck working in our favor but should not rely on it too much sidelining hard work as that doesn’t end well. Luck is not in our control but hard work is and so we can move on once we have tried our hardest. Hence, the road ahead for me is to work hard every time irrespective of whether luck is in my favor or not and just have gratitude for the people and opportunities I encounter. If things work out then nothing like it and if they don’t then there is no regret at least for not trying.

Ma’am, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Reading this blog has been an enriching and learning experience. I believe, almost all of us at some point in our life tried to connect our past with either of these three: Luck, Fate or Hard Work. But can we say what we are today in our lives is only because of any one of these factors - Luck, Fate or Hard work? As an example you mentioned about your student who studied under the street lamp in the heart of a large city. She was born in a poor family, that was her fate but she did not allow her fate to write her future. It was because of her hard work, she managed to study after she had helped her mother in household work. In the second example, you mentioned about a boy from a very rich family. Being born in the rich family and getting to choose different bikes is his fate, but where he is going to land in his future would depend on his hard work. Many of us believe that only luck or fate drives our life. But I personally came across a number of people in my life who challenged their fate or luck and with hard work they changed their future. Luck and fate play a very important role in making our future life, but I believe these are just the facilitators not the primary reasons of being successful or unsuccessful. Everyone has to travel the same tortuous road to reach the destination of success, for the privileged lot of our society luck and fate act as an extra advantage. This advantage may give them an edge over others who are not privileged, but at the end they also have to finish the journey with hard work, there is no shortcut go it. For some underprivileged people, we often say that because of their poor luck and fate they are in a miserable condition in their life. It is true that, luck and fate put them on the back foot. However, I believe that this is a hindrance which can be overcome by hard-work and will power. The amount of hard work an underprivileged person has to put in is definitely greater than the hard work a well-off person has to put in to become successful in life. If we take the example of Steve Jobs, his childhood hardship, not getting a formal graduation degree were his luck and fate. But he continuously challenged his disadvantages with hard-work and will power. Luck and fate could not stop Jobs to become successful in his life. Steve Jobs is one among many such examples. According to me, luck, fate or hard work all three play a major role in our lives. No matter we belong to the privileged or underprivileged lot of the society, everyone has to put in hard work to stand on his/her own feet. However, in some situations (accidents, diseases) one has to bend his/her head in front of luck or fate. Other than this we should always challenge our luck and fate with hard work to write our own future.

Happy Teachers day mam…! It’s an everlasting debate that happens on the topic of Luck or Hard-work. I will only stick to academics and education for debating on the topic. I believe that Luck or Fate is the opportunity to educate oneself and in a country like India with high parity there are many children who gets the opportunity while there are many more who doesn’t. In my opinion, the opportunity that the children from upper class family gets is what makes them lucky. Also, no doubt that there are unusual parents and the middle-income group in the society who at the cost of limiting their desires and even needs, struggling day and night to earn and save money, diverting their savings to educate their children, in-turn to make their children’s journey more desirable and easy as a student. So, such children are also lucky to have the opportunity. However, having an opportunity is not the end. It is the amount of hard-work that one puts in throughout the journey that will transform and affect the journey and decide the scale of success. It is hard-work that will decide one’s future. As you rightly mentioned about the message from Gita that Karma is something to be focused upon. I too feel lucky to have parents who could educate me but at the same time as a student I have put in a lot of efforts throughout my career to get an admission at SPJIMR. Thus, all those who gets the opportunity to educate themselves are equal irrespective of their income class. Being a responsible citizen of the fastest growing economy, what we should be concerned about are not those who are lucky, but the ones who aren’t lucky enough to have parents who could afford to educate them. The poor sections of the society that forms a large part of the population (and this is why I mentioned that many doesn’t get the opportunity) are those who lacks luck or fate and in-spite of putting in hard-work throughout their life they could not achieve what the educated class of the economy could and for these section luck comes over hard-work. These are those section who believe that probably only education can bring prosperity over the generations and it would take may be another 2 to 3 generations to pass by for them to agree to their children opting for non-academic career. This is where we as individuals and society are responsible to educate and guide the poor sections of the society. We could be that one factor for them which could make them feel lucky and help them stand as equals with others. I believe that I have already taken a very conscious step, by being part of the Abhyudaya initiative of mentoring an under privileged child and trying to improve child’s future prospects. To summarize, luck definitely plays an important part by providing a platform, however, it is the Hard-work that will help the child climb the ladder of success.

When I was in school, my teachers used to regularly say that one makes his destiny. I used to regularly ask, how? They used to say hard work. When I was overlooked for some award or lost narrowly in a competition, I used to ask why it happened. They used to say my luck was bad. Somehow I could never make the connection as to how hard work was the recipe for success but luck the reason for failure. Over time I have realised that there is a crucial third element in the equation. That of choice. When I am successful it is not merely because of hard work but also distinctly due to the choices I made along the way. Making a wrong choice and working as hard as possible is never going to make me successful. When I fail the choices I made in the past along the way were as much responsible as my luck. My luck was bad because someone else made the right choices. Now, I try to validate this theory against any and every outcome I see around me or recollect. I remember a batch-mate in school who was extremely good in academics and used to put in extremely long hours. He used to do well in all papers but never was quite able to do well in Maths. On probing, he revealed that he couldn’t finish the maths paper on time even though he knew all the answers. The reason I found out was that he was choosing the lengthiest questions all the time. Now what would one attribute this failure of his to? Luck, destiny or lack of hard work? I would say, choice is what determined the outcome. If today or tomorrow I feel that my life has not panned out the way it should have, I cannot blame my luck for it nor myself for not trying enough. It was the choices I made along the way, whether it be taking up science in standard 11, computer engineering in college, Infosys as a work place, MBA as further education or SPJIMR as the place for it. Another crucial element here is how choice influences my outlook. I can choose to remain unsuccessful throughout my life or I can choose to be successful today. I can choose to be happy with a humble homemade dinner or crib about the last dinner in the newest five star hotel in the town. I can choose to break out of the mould and do something family or society would look down on or cry over my luck in being born in a conservative family or an unaccommodating society. What choice does is bring an entirely new dimension in the perennial debate that has been brought up in the blog and flavors any stand that I take on the questions being asked. It probably ends up both supporting or negating the argument between luck, destiny and hard work and definitely ends up on top as the single most important factor.

You have addressed one of the most discussed topic while assessing success or failure of an individual and it has been very well put forth. The way you have incorporated your own life experience to arrive at the conclusion is what appealed me the most. It is a normal propensity of people to reflect upon their most struggling periods when they pushed themselves beyond and achieved what they wanted. This bias gets so strong that it masks the accumulated advantages they always accrued due to good parenting, hometown or year of birth. Since these things are ingrained in their system of thoughts, it goes unnoticed in the story’s ‘credits to victory’. Unlike the achievers who hint at hard work as the biggest factor of getting them to success, I believe that there is a significant share of luck and fate in that success pie. I would like to mention the writings of Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘’Outliers’’ wherein he goes on to point out that it is not the brightest who succeed. For example, Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, was born in an affluent family who had the chance of studying in a school that could afford a first generation computer. He had spent close to 10000 hours on computer programming by the time he was 20 - more than any programmer alive at that time. This may not be the biggest factor in getting Bill Gates earn the most money but it certainly serves as accumulative advantage he accrued his entire life. This provides another verity in favour of the arguments put forth in the article. This brings us to the notion of Gifted Opportunities and Earned Opportunities. Though opportunities are by themselves unpredictable, but it can be gained through resources. For example, two extremely hard working individuals working on setting up their own enterprise. As we all know that initial investment by the Angel investor is the most important impetus needed, he becomes the opportunity that could bend or end the path to success. The person with some contacts in venture capitalist firm or having a rich background with contacts can easily seize the opportunity as compared to the other middle-class-no-contact individual struggling cut a deal. The former is a typical case of Gifted Opportunity where mere unpossessed resources work as benefactors whereas the other, if at all he strikes a deal, becomes a symbol for Earned Opportunity. In a nutshell, I believe that it would be unethical for a person not to acknowledge the supporting structure available to him his entire life. Although this may not be intentional, but the very act of acknowledging one’s accumulative advantage in a conversation indicates not only humbleness and gratitude but also generates respect for the introspection one has undergone to realize this.

Dear Mam, your thoughts have been very insightful and resonate well with the opinion of many people today. I have had a firm notion in my mind for a while now. It is about our perception of luck, or the 'favorable environment' you have questioned towards the end. Luck is actually a human connotation to what nature gives us: CHANCE. Both of them are closely related. To understand the actuality, we need to comprehend the difference by calling luck as 'subjective'. Nature's play has been beautifully quantified through Mathematics. Mankind's work in this field has been impressive enough to pinpoint these chances as 'probable random outcomes'. Luck, on the other hand, marks a 'chance' with a value we put to it. From this perspective, I believe that the probability of being lucky can be influenced, if only somewhat. Being lucky can be made more frequent if we change our outlook to what good luck is. Optimism in life can go a long way to achieve this, but only up to the point where it is reasonable. The other, more effective way, is to deal with chance itself. Are there ways to increase the chance of events, which is a precursor to luck? I think, yes! Thomas Jefferson used to say: " The harder I work, the luckier I get". Luck, fate and hard-work go hand in hand. Mathematically, increasing the number of opportunities of a seemingly 'blind chance' can make it very favorable, very fast. For example: from applying for a job, to getting an appointment, there are many variables at play. It depends on the recruiter's requirement, the quality of competition and the applicant's experience and skills, to name a few. However, an active job applicant has a higher 'chance' of being 'lucky', simply because he or she has widened his pool of chances to win. That is why, people are apt when they say: "You are lucky only if you believe you are". From a higher perspective, perception of luck precedes hard work and hard work precedes the chance of being lucky. It is cyclic in nature. One fact to keenly notice here is the law of inevitability at work. There might never be a sure chance (read: luck) of an event being in one's favour due to the presence of infinite outcomes, but there is a sure chance of no luck if we do nothing (zero opportunities seized). A very big subjective difference comes into picture when we move from nothing, to something. This thought converges on my answer to your question regarding the belief in a 'favourable environment'. I believe that luck plays an important role, but not is not the sole factor of success. Favourable conditions can create a fertile ground for an individual to harness the hard work he or she puts in. However, without hard-work and self-belief, the chances (as described above) are too few or nil, and consequently, the luck in future outcomes is even more scarce or non-existent.

Dear Ma’am, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. You have wonderfully elucidated the recurring thought that many of us have in life. Yes, I agree with you that it all begins from being born in a ‘favorable’ environment. I have pondered on the same question at various points of time in my life, especially after a success or a failure. I look back at the journey towards a success, and the question of “Do I deserve this success?” often comes to my mind. More often than not, there have been moments that were not in my control, moments where I was lost and did not have a clue about what I was doing, and *somehow* they went my way. While I am happy to admit that I was lucky, my mother calls it ‘Fate’ and she says it was ‘meant-to-be’. While both of us agree that my hard-work (alone) is not sufficient to get what I want, we differ in our opinion about what is that *something* that makes it happen. I firmly believe in Karma and I believe that our life is a consequence of our actions (or inaction). Hence, I think that my will and action to change the outcome of an event will definitely have an impact on it. I do not, unlike my mother, believe that our ‘life is a script and is pre-written’. I do not take it for granted because it is ‘meant-to-be’. I am conscious about the impact of my action (or inaction) and I act accordingly. As a result, I am not inclined to the possibility of ‘Fate’ affecting our life. However, it is fascinating to think about the impact of choices and decisions in our life. While choices define the possible ways our life can take us through, the decisions that we (and more importantly, others) take, ultimately, determine how our life will unfold. This combination of decisions shapes the life that we live and makes it so interesting. During my musings, I have realized that ‘hard-work’ is a relative term, and one cannot determine the hard-work that one requires to tip the scales in his favor. I completely agree with you about the ‘Hindsight bias’ that we generally possess, and I think we prefer to attribute a success to our hard-work rather than to luck or fate, since we do not want to admit, to others and maybe even to ourselves, that there are moments in life that are beyond our control. This human nature of wanting to stay in control might prevent us from finding an answer to this eternal question. It is also interesting to analyze failures and the possible causes that might have caused it. Although a failure might be ‘unfavorable’ at that point of time, I have realized that each failure gives us an experience that comes in handy at a later stage of our life. I think we are truly lucky if we are able to connect the dots when we retrospect, and appreciate how our life has unfolded. Sadly, a lot of us fail to inculcate this habit of appreciation even after connecting the dots.

I enjoyed reading your point of view on this ever going debate of identifying the true reason for one’s successful life. Since childhood, we have been trained to believe that “Hard-work is the key to success” however after being exposed to realities of life we have accepted that it is never just the hard work that pays off. There is a tinge of luck or rather fate attached to it. Hard work is more of a requirement rather than a reason for success. As illustrated in your article through a lot of examples many successful people attribute their success to their perseverance or hard- work but is it true that everyone who works hard achieves a sure shot success. We all firmly believe this is not true. The magical factor that leads to success in such cases is luck or fate. Let me bring about an example from my recent Abhyudaya experience. My mentee works hard in studies, has won so many scholarships but is she lucky enough to get opportunities she would have otherwise got had she got a chance to grow up in a financially well off setup. This is not a choice she made for herself. I, on the other hand consider myself lucky to have born in an environment where all my wishes could be fulfilled. All this never sounds fair to me. However, I second your thoughts on the fact that among the three hard work wins the race. The sense of fulfilment we get after achieving something by working hard can never be equivalent to winning just by pure luck. Even though through experiences we realize that there is a lucky charm involved in almost everything we do, we never leave everything on it. We work hard to achieve our goals and then leave everything on fate. Maybe this is one very important reason as to why we always attribute our success with hard work and our failure with fate. Luck and fate, start their work the moment we are born. They work together, in fields like parenting, schooling, peer group, neighbourhood, medical and physical health along with our mental health to create a base for hard work to step in and build upon and deliver what we want. Ma’am as you said, hard work is something that is under our control but not luck and fate. A person should not come to conclusion that hard work is the only reason for her success, luck and fate have played an equally important role to help the person achieve what she wanted in her life. At last I would like to say, we should consider ourselves lucky to be in a position to deliver on our targets by doing the adequate amount of hard work.

The blog was a very insightful and thought provoking read ma’am . The question that you ended your blog with, “I firmly believe it all begins from being born in a ‘favorable’ environment. Would you agree?” has compelled me to think and rethink about this very notion of luck and fate having a prejudice over one’s hard work. It is partially true to say that fate does have an imperative role in initiating one’s success as someone being born into a middle class family with both parents employed will almost certainly have a better shot at going to college than the child of a single mother working three part time jobs. However, fate is not the sole limiter. I recall a story told by my high school English teacher about Napoleon Bonaparte. As a young soldier, Napoleon, visited a palm reader and asked about his chances of becoming Emperor. The palm reader remarked saying that he didn’t have the fate line to become an emperor. Napoleon drew his sword and etched a deep line - and so a fate line - on his palm. He turned his bloodied hand to the palmist and asked, 'How about now?' And the rest is History. Certainly, we all know of Napoleon and his legends as the French emperor. The self-etched fate line could have worked for him but I would prefer a less grotesque way of making and challenging my fate through hard work. The same is true of luck. Good luck might just knock on your door anytime and take you from the shackles of rags to riches or unknown to world renowned. Columbus who was set out to discover India, discovered America, by Luck. Many inventions, like radioactivity by Madam Curie happened by accident, luck again! Perhaps, this is what the people born in an unfavorable environment would hope for. If not fate, oh God!, give me luck. What fate has marred upon, luck could make up. But is there a ray of hope for someone, who hasn’t been blessed with an eventful fate line or good luck? I have another story to share, a more recent one, which might answer the question. I have been given the privilege to mentor a kid under the Abhyudaya programme as a part of my curriculum. The mentee also called a sitara(star) comes from a family of 7 with only one bread earner. Certainly not as lucky as most of us reading this comment would be . During my recent visit to her home, I asked my sitara,” if you met a fairy one day, and she gives you three options for a gift- money, knowledge and a big house. What would you choose. she thought for a minute and replied (translated from hindi),” I will take knowledge as it is will stay with me forever and I will work hard and use my knowledge to earn money and buy a house’. I was asked the same question by my teacher when I was that age and I too had replied knowledge. But the only difference is l had my own fancy room, went to a good school and my parents had most of my demands fulfilled.

A very happy Teacher’s day Ma’am. The question put forth by you has been bothering me for a long time now. Everyone at some point in his life has pondered over this but very few have the answer to this question. I believe it is the amalgamation of all the three – luck, fate and hard work – that determines the success of an individual. Hard work, as mentioned by you, is the most important of the three but, when supplemented with luck and fate makes the journey easier. Hard work is the backbone of success. No one can achieve what one desires unless he works hard to those goals. But luck plays a very critical role in determining when this hard work will be rewarded. People, whom luck favours, reach their destination at lot quicker when compared with the people who find themselves with a dearth of it. There have been many examples where despite being immensely talented and putting all the hard work, people have made it to their targets a lot later. The reason for this being a stroke of luck that did not favour them and hence kept them waiting. Steve jobs is the first name that comes to mind. The likes of Boman Irani, Michael Hussey are some others that I can think of. But these are also the people who burst onto the scene when their time comes. When it comes to being born in the ‘favourable’ environment, it always helps. Having the resources and the aid provides a base to grow from and makes the life a lot easier. Here luck has a huge role to play, be it a scientist, a sportsman, or a businessman. Having the guidance and being mentored by right people propels them to the right path and hence are destined for success. But people such as these make a very small population. Most people don’t get this liberty and have to go through difficult challenges to reach their mark. All this aside hard work blended with grit and perseverance compensates for the dearth of luck and fate and eventually, may be a little late, helps one guide oneself to success.

Thanks Ma’am for your thoughts on this very pertinent question that even I used to ask myself in the past. I personally believe that our fate and luck do play a role in shaping up our lives, but the hard work that we put in ultimately decides whether we are able to achieve our goals or not . Being born into a relatively well-off family and having a favourable environment are just the tools that the fate provides us with but using them efficiently is ultimately in the hands of the person. To quote an example, just take a case of 2 children, both of them have the same laptop and are entitled to similar facilities. One, uses it to kill his time by watching unnecessary videos over YouTube and the other one uses it to read newspaper or encyclopedias to enhance his knowledge. It clearly reveals that the way we use our fate decides our future and this is where I believe the role of hard work comes in. I believe that hard-work is the ultimate tool which over powers the luck as well as the fate. Sachin Tendulkar , M.S. Dhoni , Jack Ma, Dhirubhai Ambani and many others are the examples from the real world who attribute their success to hard work and their never say die attitude. Most of these successful people were born poor, they didn’t have the best of the resources but one thing that stood out for them was there hard work. They all worked hard in their respective fields and ultimately scaled heights of success in their lives. I recently came across a newspaper article which put forth the journey of a rickshaw-puller’s son who cleared IAS examination. The fate of the boy as we can well understand was not very good. According to the boy, it was his hard-work and self-belief which helped him to overcome the hardships bestowed upon him by the fate. Another school of thought that I wish to bring into the discussion here is that I feel in most of the cases the favourable conditions in which we are born in, work as an inhibitor rather than a catalyst in our journey to success. It is because of this favourable environment that we are born into, we don’t really understand the importance of the resources that we have since at the back of our mind we are comfortable in current surroundings and ultimately end up not working as hard as it is required to accomplish our objectives. A real life example that we can relate to is Fardeen Khan who despite of having the best of the resources at hand ruined his acting career by indulging into drug abuse. In my opinion, hardwork is what matters the most since it is something we can work upon, which is not true in the case of fate or luck.

It was nice reading your viewpoints ma'am. I have a similar take on the subject. In a debate of Luck vs Hard-work people tend to believe that Hard-work plays a more significant role. The underlying assumption is that when Opportunity knocks at your door only the well prepared will be able to seal the deal. Agreed that hard work is part of the journey to success but I believe it’s rather a requirement than a reason for success. I strongly believe in luck and fate playing a key role in making me what I’m. But I have an issue on how luck and fate is viewed by most of the people with a contrary viewpoint. On asking people what brought them so far in their journey of life, Luck, fate or Hard-work? I get similar responses with hard-work leading the race miles ahead of the other two. One of the most common examples pitched in support is the contrast between people from different class and background; deprived ones rising higher than the affluent kids, who have access to all resources but are still incapable of standing on their own feet. Luck is an excuse of the ‘unsuccessful’, to them. For long I believed that the middle class was less lucky and had to work hard to achieve something in life. Over time I realized how the kids in richer and more successful family were more at disadvantage. Nothing can be more demotivating than being shadowed by a more successful member of the family and raised in ignominy of one’s own underestimated capabilities. Imagine how much harder one has to work before he can be considered equally capable and then has go farther ahead to outshine. Isn’t the amount of efforts required in itself disparate? From my observation of the world around I feel that I was very lucky to have been born brainy and in an environment where education, hard-work and perseverance was valued, so much so that it became a part of me. I often feel that I have not done enough and believe in my potential to do much better. It is difficult to quantify how much hard work is more than others. Things just click for some with little efforts and not for the others; but everyone belongs to a different niche. I believe that man is a product of his experiences, a mix of ‘Nature and Nurture’. The environment you grow in and your ‘Genetic Potential’ significantly defines where you end up in life. And I believe both are a product of luck and fate. Warren Buffet calls it ‘Ovarian Lottery’ and one must acknowledge the role it plays in one’s life. Most successful people are a product of Talent plus Grit. Weighing either over the other would be an overstatement. One must be grateful of the circumstances that shaped the most crucial first 5 years of childhood and a few other life changing events that might have made them more resilient and passionate. If they were not lucky then what?

I think this is a well written piece and a very nice read. The examples used for context setting are simple real life situations that everyone can easily relate to. Luck, Fate or Hard work? This question has always intrigued me. People generally have a similar opinion when it comes to luck and hard work. They tend to attribute others’ success to luck and their own success to hard work. These are the same people who will put the entire blame on luck and not the lack of hard work for their failure. I completely agree with your argument about people born in a ‘favourable environment.’ They are luckier than the ones with an ordinary upbringing because a solid family background can provide a head start. But life, as we already know is not a sprint. It is a marathon. A good start is necessary but not sufficient. So the start doesn’t really matter in the long run. The ones who show a lot of promise early in their careers should not take things for granted. One must remember that hard work defeats talent when talent does not work hard. I firmly believe that man is the maker of his own destiny. He can rise above this unfruitful debate by committing himself to greater deeds. Hard work has always been the differentiating factor between the ordinary and the extraordinary. It is the key to success. This is what Lee Trevino, one of the greatest players in professional golf history, had to say about luck: “The more I practise the luckier I get.” The point about ‘karma’ ruling over ‘bhagya’ and ‘kismat’ has been beautifully presented. I do not believe in luck. But I do feel there are certain external factors that can influence the outcome of an event. With a little extra effort we can keep these factors under check and increase our proficiency in identifying opportunities.

I take this opportunity to thank you for enlightening all of us with your wonderful views on one of the more relevant and the pertinent questions that have been the subjects of much contention and debate various career scientists and research. Your writing illustrates years of experience and indepth insights on the subject. The terms “Hard work”, “Fate”, “Luck” are often pitted against each other when it comes to analyzing the factors that lead to individual career growth. There are millions of people around the world who work on daily wages and receive a meagre sum of money for their immense hard work, from dawn to dusk, round the year. So what is the thing that is holding them back? It is surely not the lack of dedication or hard work for they end up doing more physically and mentally pressing activities than any CEO of the world without any incentive of paid leaves, bonuses and allowances. This disparity is nothing but lack of opportunities due to social, political or economic hurdles. Since childhood we have been taught that “Hard work is the key to success”. Fate and luck are looked upon as something meant for people who are procrastinators or who are not willing to work hard. What we sometimes fail to realize that certain situations do prefer one individual over the other. For instance in the famous book Q and A by Vikas Swaroop, which has now been made into a motion picture, “Slumdog Millionaire”, it is not hard work that won the protagonist the price money. It was his being at the right places at the right time throughout his life. As warren buffet elaborates it, “If I was born in Africa, my talent at investment would be useless and I would be totally unaccomplished. To feel that my success is a result of my own hard work alone would be extremely arrogant and blind to randomness of life”. However sometimes we tend to overestimate the role of “Fate” or “Luck” in evaluating our own success. In order to tip the scales towards us, we tend to use astrology and psychic sciences like palmistry for even the basic decisions like naming your child or a wedding decision are taken after consulting priests. When it comes to achieving success in life, all these parameters have to be intertwined with each other in order to achieve success. I completely agree with you when you say that there is no one particular answer to this question of which amongst the three is important for individual career growth. There has to be a rational realization that in order to achieve success in life there has to be an optimum balance between the three. The individuals who realize this tend to become much more generous, charitable, spiritual, humble and willing to contribute to the common good of the society. It is good to take pride in your success but gratitude towards something.

A very well written article ma'am. More than that I think this is the most important thing to understand in the current highly competitive world. The reason of importance is an interesting one and something to dwell upon. Our mentors during the formative years are mainly our parents and teachers. As observed in your analysis also, most of them would say "Hard Work" is the key to success. I would somewhat differ to this opinion. I feel luck also plays a significant part in everybody's life. Our mentors belong to the generation previous to ours when the times were different, demands were different and may be the level of competitive intensity was somewhat on a lower side compared to current times. Each one of our parents and teachers were different in the way they were brought up. Even though their cultures or societies were different, within each societies there would be similar kinds of people. This is applicable today as well. It is determined by the type of school we go, the area we live in etc. Now, the key thing to observe here is that within each pocket of societies the comparison is done with a largely similar kind of people. By similar I am referring to the financial capability, access to resources, education level of relatives and friends circle. When such is the playing field it is only the hard work which matters. One who works diligently, invests dedicated time in any of the activities is bound to succeed compared to her peer group. The difference is observed when we start comparing different sets of people. People whose upbringing has been different, who have difference in their financial capability, access to resources and again education level of relatives and friends. Just compare 2 sets of families. One who's parents had the time, money and awareness and hence started the training of their child right from early age. On the other hand, somebody who were lacking on any of the earlier mentioned factors would not have provided similar level of training. This is age when the child is not aware of what life is, what is to be dome of it, it just follows what his parents would ask him. This happens at later stages of life as well. Even if somebody is really hard working, her progress can be limited by the resources available to her at that time. How would justify this difference? Isn't it luck? Often we hear that if she had worked hard she would have done better than the others. Now, please explain how can one bridge the gap created by the difference in the level of training be it because of level of school or external training achieved by the others. The training she couldn't get because of factors not in her control. She reached the current level because of her intellectual abilities and talent but so did others and on top of that are getting facilities to hone the talent further. This I believe is luck and the reason of difference in performance of equally hard working candidates.

Dear Ma’am, As someone who has often pondered about the ‘fate vs. free will’ quandary, I found this line of questioning to be similar. It is true that hard work carries a moral relevancy and weight that luck cannot seem to match. Hard work, in its essence, is the inspiration of dreams. When we hear stories of pure human determination, raw perseverance, it unlocks fervor in us temporarily. But in these stories, what needs to be replicated is the search for an idea or goal which is capable of motivating us to that extent. However, instead of that takeaway, we rather hear that ‘anything can be achieved through hard work’ as the most important message. The question of luck vs. hard work can never have a definitive answer. We need to be lucky enough to find our true motivators and interests, have the opportunities to pursue them, and possess the drive to excel at them. Even in the case of fate vs. free will, the answer is not as clear as it seems. The mere vastness of the universe, and the fact that we still have not explored all of the regions in our own planet, let alone the galaxy, usually gives me a good sense of perspective of how much we think we know. Our fate is to run towards the image of free will, faintly visible, like a mirage in the distance, yet never reach. It is amusing that although everyone cries hard work as an adult, at the school stage, hard work is something that no student will be caught dead admitting to. In the mini-society that school functions in, putting in hard work is almost a crime, with even serial studiers lying through their teeth that they haven’t looked at their books yet. What causes this change in rhetoric when we move to a different environment? In school, the administration is generally viewed to be on the other side of the students. Thus exams, which are set by this administration, are viewed to be an extension of this cold war. This is why students do not publicly admit to putting in efforts to look good in a system that the ‘enemy’ rewards. However, when the social setting shifts to corporate after adulthood hits, we find that the rhetoric changes back to hard work, with even those who slack off at work finding innovative ways to point out their contributions in performance appraisal meetings. In both scenarios, people still work in the way that they do, but when forced to talk about it, they will side with the crowd. In both cases, people just say what they want in order to feel ‘included’. It is also telling to note that in school the reward has no effect on your immediate livelihood. However, at the workplace, people’s livelihoods are dependent on their jobs, which can be at stake in high pressure situations. This is what causes the shift in rhetoric, as the value of hard work now has a direct impact on the life of the employee. I am of the belief that the story of our life has been written out for us, and the best we can do is enjoy every minute of the ride. There have been many who have made it to riches from rags, and those who have done it the other way around as well. Regardless of what environment you are born into, you have a story to live. As long as you live it to the fullest and explore yourself, a favorable environment will form around you.

Ma’am, this blog has really made me reflect back upon my life not in terms of achievements but also all those times when I have failed. At various junctures of my life, it is hard-work in the right direction which is in the forefront than any other mantra which I rely on. I often argue with myself when I heard people saying that smart work is the new key to success because for me, I am ready to accept failure after putting all my efforts rather than choosing a short-cut and then sulking later on. It reminds me of a line once quoted by Rohit Kapoor, Senior VP at Mckinsey in a workshop that “Be like a swan, peaceful from outside but when you actually see it under water, you will see her peddling hard to swim”. Believe it or not, there is no escape from working hard. Studies have shown luck plays an important factor but it is also true that all luck and no work would not land us anywhere. The choice becomes quite clear that it is our “karma” which would bore fruit sometimes or would go empty-handed just like any other autumn season. The important point I wanted to make here is that working hard is just the first step towards success but reflecting upon “what went wrong” would be more crucial than shifting the onus on luck if something goes astray in the first place. However, the concluding sentence of your writing when you say it all begins from being born in a “favourable” environment leaves me to ponder a bit more. I believe that there is no denying the fact that our ideology, attitude, way of looking upon things come from the immediate surroundings and shapes well if it is endowed with opportunities, financial soundness and a true mentor but I have often seen that it is lack of opportunities, deprivation which bring out the best in people and they strive for it even more. The moment when we start thinking ourselves to be fully accomplished, that marks the beginning of our downfall. It is a double edged sword where opportunities pose out to be threat and vice-versa. It would not be wrong to say that a person who has some constrained will take more time in order to reach zenith comparatively but the choice lies in the fact that it is more driven by one’s passion whether he allows his life to be led by fate or he himself decides his fate. I have seen people turning limitations into challenges and challenges into opportunities and literally, it leaves me awestruck to see that something as simple as “perception & right action” can turn the tables upside down. A success has no pre-defined formula but it is a blend where certain things like hard work, perseverance, self-belief stay constant and rest (luck, fate) may vary.

Dear ma’am, your article is indeed thought provoking and quite a riveting read. It answers a question that has boggled many minds for sure and has been pertinent in my own life as well. The weightage to be given to luck, fate or hard work does not have a perennial answer but would vary from person to person. As mentioned in your blog, people belonging to higher income groups would prefer to attribute their success to hard work. Crediting their achievements to luck or fate might probably come across as having had no hand in their own success. But for people belonging to lower income groups or the unprivileged, success is a function of luck or fate. According to the indigent, it’s easier for people who already have access to the required resources to make it in the world, and the access to required resources comes only to those who are born in privileged homes, which again circles back to luck and fate. For me, luck, fate and hard work go hand in hand. If I want to be selected for a PPI for my dream company, I know my chances of being selected are much higher if I work hard than not. But those chances are also subject to the bias of the person who goes through my CV, and that will depend on my luck and fate. I also believe that once you’re unable to achieve something, your bias towards having bad luck takes a toll on your thought process. In such a situation, one may feel that the world is out to get them and no matter what they do, they may never achieve success. It’s a vicious cycle that begins with ‘bad luck’ and eventually people attribute your failures to not being a hard worker. To quote another instance, for somebody who was born handicapped it’s all because of luck and fate. But the ability to turn this ill-fate around lies with those who can get over the stigma, can get over pitying themselves and actually work towards what they want. Where I am today has been an intertwined working of luck, fate and hard work. I am fortunate enough to have been born in a well to do family, but I have not always appreciated the vitality of these facts. I am not always cognizant of the fact that these are the basic requirements needed to achieve even the smallest of things. Anything over and above that I have achieved is attributed to my hard work. I could have easily relied on my parents to fund me for the rest of my life, but my hard work and drive to do be better than a mere freeloader helped me be satisfied with where I am inn my life right now. All in all, the perceptions regarding the working of luck, fate and hard work are bound to be different. But what each one of us might agree on is that luck and fate provide you with lots of opportunities but you need to be able to work hard in order to tap those opportunities.

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