Return on Luck–Chapter 7

There is a great question when examining success. Was it luck or skill? If you or I were put in the same situation with the same opportunity would we be just as successful? If it was just luck then the steps taken for success don’t matter. Any old course of action would work. If luck is the major factor then should people bother to train, go to school, and develop networks?


Luck happens to the successful and the unsuccessful. There is also good and bad luck. Bad luck would be like the earthquake in Japan or the housing market collapse. Something outside your control changes the game. Collins says “The critical question is not ‘Are you lucky?’ but ‘Do you get a high return on luck?'” (p. 168).

To get a high return on your good luck you need three things. The first is to prepare. Collins would say that say that they follow the principles of the 10Xers. Be ready to take advantage of your good luck. Prepare and be persistent in your preparation. Give yourself margin so that when the time comes there is reserve to draw on. Don’t live so close to the death line that a bad event will knock you out of the game. Luck favors the persistent because good luck eventually returns. The second thing needed the behavior of firing bullets then cannonballs. Test and retest before using major resources. The third element on a high return on luck is knowing the right people and building the right relationships. “The best way to find a strong current of good luck is to swim with great people, and build deep and enduring relationships with people for whom you’d risk your life and who’d risk their lives for you” (Collins, p. 179).

Great By Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

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