Sometimes, luck wins.
"How to be successful" returns 843 million results on Google. "I will teach you to be rich" is an actual website. And we can't go a day without seeing how four habits will make us successful, or seven things the most successful people are always doing, or, from the astonishingly loquacious and for the above-average attention span, 37 secrets only successful people know.
All of it is nonsense.
Don't get me wrong: there's a lot of good advice, and there's a lot that can help people. Go ahead: read one of these every day. Just don't believe that they will make the entire difference between you living on $45,000/year and building the next Facebook.
Because ... luck.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to Amazon founder, new richest person on Earth, and currently a billionaire 130.5 times over Jeff Bezos. (Hold your breath for a moment: if Amazon stock goes up, it'll be 135 times.)
"The price of admission to space is very high," Bezos recently said as he accepted a Buzz Aldrin exploration award. "I'm in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the solar system."
There's only two things you need to pay attention to in that statement.
One, it takes a lot of money to be a space explorer.
And two, Bezos acknowledges that his extraordinary success and stupendous wealth are, at least to some degree, the result of an incredible streak of luck.
There's no doubt that Bezos is smart.
There's no doubt that Bezos is visionary.
There's no doubt that Bezos is a super-talented technologist and leader and business person and manager.
Even so, in his own words, his tremendous fortune is the result of "Amazon lottery winnings." That might just be seen as simple politeness, downplaying his own role in amassing the modern world's biggest fortune. But I don't think so.
I think Bezos gets it.
Even super-smart and super-successful people rely on a lot of luck (and the help of friends) to get where they've gone. Where would Amazon be without the internet? Where would Amazon be if Bezos couldn't find investors? Where would Amazon be if stock markets hadn't been so forgiving of its lack of desire to show quarterly profits for almost two decades? And where would Amazon be today if a wonderful confluence of natural language processing, artificial intelligence, cloud technology, device manufacturing, and massive distribution power hadn't made its Echo line of products one of the most successful in recent years?
Much of that required seizing opportunity by the horns and running with it.
But much of it required sheer, blind, luck. And thanks to Jeff Bezos' comments, we can see that in operation from one of the most successful persons in the entire world.
Remember that next time you see a "5 steps to instant success" article on the internet.