We’d rather not claim luck. Good luck feels like something was unearned. And bad luck sounds like an excuse.
The false promise of meritocracy decries luck in all its forms.
Among famous colleges, perhaps one in five qualified applicants are admitted. Here’s what that means:
The school could make a list of every student who is ‘good’ enough to get in. The combination of background, test scores, grades, activities, all of it. Every student who, under some circumstances, would be happily admitted.
They could send a note to every one of those students telling them that they are finalists, and now, a random number generator is going to pick 20% of them.
Because that’s what they’re actually doing anyway.
If you got rejected, perhaps it would be better to know that you were a finalist and then you got unlucky, instead of blaming yourself and some imagined defect.
And the same goes for countless things that happen to us in our lives. That I was lucky to get that first TED talk. That I was unlucky to not get that big meeting years ago…
Giving credit (or blame) to luck makes it easier to get back to the hard work of making things better.