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?


Share Button to Share Current Content Into Social Media Platforms


It indeed was a thought-provoking article. A person could keep wondering for a long time about - what are the factors that lead you to success - is it luck, fate or your hard work, and still not come up with the right answer. When this question is asked more often than not you will get an answer – “It was hard – work”. There could be a lot of reasons for this. One reason could be that we are socially wired this way and to accept that it is the right thing to believe that you don’t need luck on your side to succeed but you could achieve success through hard work, that ‘Karma’ rules over ‘Kismat’ or ‘Bhaagya’. The other reason could be that in success people tend to credit themselves for their achievements, they don’t want to acknowledge or even believe that it was luck or fate that guided them to their success. In failure, it’s human tendency to blame others for their failure, and luck and fate gives them an opportunity to think that even though they worked hard their luck was not good or that fate was playing against them. We all could agree that ‘Individuals get rich primarily because they work hard’ is a statement more likely to be made by more privileged people than those who are less privileged. It is a basic human tendency to credit their hard-work for their success and to blame their luck or fate for their failures. There are a lot of people in this world who work very hard to achieve something but fail only because they missed out on some opportunity due to some fateful event. And there are those people who are very successful only because they were in the right place at the right time. Still, we cannot deny the fact that you could never succeed in life without hard work. In the end, I believe that in order to achieve your dreams you have to work hard but you should also hope that luck remains on your side.

This blog was an interesting read. The point of view stands out and is appealing. Many people claim that success is an outcome of hard work. Others believe that it is the product of good luck or fate. I believe that success is a concoction of both, hard work and luck, with hard work having a supremacy. Success is not a result of one lucky achievement, but instead it is a cumulative result of hard work that goes into achieving a goal. Small victories, when achieved in succession, result in what we term as success. These small victories maybe achieved due to luck. But I believe that to continuously succeed in life, hard work is the clear-cut path. The experience of my father, a successful businessman, is a riveting example of the above mentioned point. He owns a profitable steel manufacturing firm. Initially he started with a small business of manufacturing moulds required to cast steel, and achieved success in it immediately. This success can be attributed to his good luck. When this small initiative found success, my father amplified it with a series of profitable mergers and augmented the business. From a few employees, the business grew to hundreds of employees. What I wish to point out is, that my father might have been lucky at one stage, but this long term success cannot be an outcome of serendipity alone. In fact, the major component in this achievement is his hard work and perseverance. According to me, good luck plays the role of a supporting actor, hard work being the hero, but without the presence of both, the movie is not a hit. Having talked about good luck and hard work as a combination in the above example, it is in line with ma’am’s concept of a favourable environment. But what about the times when you have worked hard and bad luck was the spoiler? The answer according to me lies in this famous quote, “The only thing that overcomes hard luck, is hard work”. This answer might seem to contradict the question. One might fail due to bad luck once, twice or multiple times, but it is only hard work that can bring him or her out of it. Hard work is the only key of control one has. The level of hard work one has to put in, will undoubtedly vary from person to person. Again, bringing favourable environment into consideration, one who doesn’t have a favourable environment, will have to put in extra efforts. But while doing that, one can overcome hard luck with hard work. The initial phase of hard luck resulting in failure can be turned to success in the long run, only by hard work. I would like to end with 2 lines of a poem I read back in school – Luck is like a fashion trend It comes and goes But hard work is timeless It always shows!

Completely agreeing with you, I would say that although hard-work is necessary to achieve something in life, it is not the winner of all because if hard-work, alone, was making people successful then a rickshaw-wala or a daily-wage labor would have become millionaires. I agree that hard-work is needed to achieve something meaningful in life but not as much as it is depicted. The environment in which a person is born, brought up, studied, passed his free time is very important among other things. Born in a middle class family, I consider myself lucky as although my parents had little but they always focused on my learnings and my overall development even more than their personal health. Therefore, luck is the first thing that acted in my case. If I work hard now and become successful in life then I cannot just say that hard-work is the winner of all because if I had been born in some other family where parents might not be as keen towards my education as my parents then I wouldn’t have gotten a chance at working hard altogether. I believe there are certain type of people born in this world. Those who are very privileged since the time they are born and live their whole life in the finest way possible. Those who are born in less fortunate family with a fate of fortune only if they work hard. Those who are born in less fortunate family and even though they work hard their whole life, they do not have a fate to have as good of a life as they deserve. Those who are born in such a family that they never even get a chance at working hard. I am sure there are many other type of people but one thing that will be common in all of them is luck and fate. Luck and Fate play very important role in the life of an individual. Whereas hard-work is variable. There are people who don’t work as hard as they should and still get a wonderful life and there are people who work hard their whole life but are nowhere to be found. Of course, this is not a hard bound reality as there are lot of of examples of people who were born with nothing and achieved so much in their life with their hard-work. But the question that is to be asked here is “Was it just their hard-work or was there something else playing in the background?” Well, we’ll never know, would we?

Hello Ma’am Very nice blog on Luck, Fate and hard work. Hard work I agree to some of your points mentioned on hard work and luck. I would redefine the luck as supreme power. It will work only when you have a strong burning desire to achieve or to do what he or she wants in his life. If anyone have strong burning desire to achieve anything in his life, he/she automatically starts working toward it to own it. Also, it requires his/her thought process must aligned to it, because someone had said “Thought becomes things!”. Luck does not work alone. Hard work in disciplined manner aiming to goal is must requirement. I think luck is perception that others have about successful person. Generally, peers, friends and relative call successful person lucky one but it is more of hard work toward strong burning desire wins. Favourable environment My definition of favourable environment means, person getting everything necessary for his/her basic needs. In context of it, I have difference in opinion. We have seen great people like Hon’ble late sheer Dr. APJ, Vivekananda swamiji, our current Prime minister etc. They are not born and brought up in favourable environment. Getting born in favourable condition is not in anybody’s control. All above leaders were not from rich family but they achieve everything in their life what they want! I think, what really matter is values (Sankar) being taught by parents. Values taught in the childhood by the parents make the person good or bad human being. Also, those who spent their childhood in unfavourable condition are more successful than those who privileged by favourable conditions. Because these people get more practical experience in their life than may business school and they are always ready for challenges to face. Whereas I have seen people getting frustrated because of things not happening the way they want.

Add new comment

Bhavan's Campus
Munshi Nagar | Dadabhai Road,
Andheri West | Mumbai - 400 058, India
Reception: +91 22 61454200
Delhi Centre
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Campus, 
3rd Floor Gate No. 4, Copernicus Lane
Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi-110001
Telephone: 011-23073121, 011-23006871
Direct Line: 011- 23383563

Link to SPJIMR Location Google Map