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Do you think your prosperity is due to your brilliance or luck?
#1
System101 had an excellent conversation thread recently about a personal experience he encountered with two working class couples who didn't have the financial resources to escape the consequences of Hurricane Florence.   There were a lot of comments and very spirited conversation.  By the way, Dr. Doug.  I love your posts.  Anyway, I think it's fair to say most of us on this chat forum are not representative of "typical" America regardless of how you define it.  We, for the most part are prosperous, parsing to the penny when we should take Social Security (did you see my recent post lol?) and most of us set out a plan decades ago and EXECUTED it so all we have to do is figure out how do we get even richer than we already are.   I'm just going to put this out there.  I think a lot of people here, including myself came from different life experiences.  Those life experiences determine our views on religion, politics, attitudes toward those less fortunate than ourselves, and I could go on and on.  It's why I've given up discussing politics and religion and why I only make comments when I'm particularly enraged on someone's stupidity.  Anyway, I look at my own personal prosperity and I am only commenting for myself, so I'm hoping this is an open non-confrontational post.  My prosperity?  I would say I wasn't particularly brilliant, but I happened to have had the right opportunities presented to me at the right time and I seized those opportunities and made the most of them.  During the 2008 Great Recession, I saw many friends I considered way smarter than I who lost their jobs and never fully recovered.  I had a position as a Risk Manager in a company that happened to provide a high demand product so I not only kept my job, I prospered on their generous incentive compensation plan because I consistently met my goals.  I guess what I'm really trying to say is yeah, I worked hard and I was kinda smart, but luck had a lot to do with it and because of my life experiences, I don't judge people who are poor.  None of us know the life experiences they had.  What do you think?  Are you prosperous because of your brilliance or because of luck, or was it a combination of both.
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#2
Not brilliance. Mix of luck and frugality. And maybe a little investment laziness by not balancing. But not laziness when it came to the job.
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#3
"It's Better to be Lucky than Good"
"Luck Favors the Well-Prepared"
"Put Yourself in Luck's Path"
"God Helps Those Who Help Themselves"
"When Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Lemonade"
"Make Your Own Luck"
 
I think you need a bit of both skill and luck.  How many stories do you hear of lottery partial winners who blow through 6 figure winnings in 3 months, or 7 figures in a year?
 
Yes, bad luck can wipe you out regardless of your preparation.
But good luck can also be irrelevant if you're not prepared to take advantage of it.
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#4
Free will or predestination? Is it better to be lucky than smart?
 
Many of us here have won the lottery of life, because we were lucky enough to be born in the US. 
 
Some others of us here were born elsewhere and have chosen to come to the US.  Maybe those who immigrated were lucky enough to be able to come, but they would not have come unless they chose to do so.
 
We all make choices. Given the luck we are dealt, we need to make the best of it.
 
I was born into a middle class family, but my father never cared about saving for tomorrow.  He worked into old age and died penniless. There was little or no money for college. I found a way to go to a college that charged no tuition and had 100% job placement.  Then, when I first started working full time, I lived in a house without heat or hot water.  The cold water would "steam" when I took a shower, because of the cold air temperature.  After a few months, I could rent an apartment and help my younger brother go to school..
 
I suppose this experience influenced me to seek security by saving and investing enough while I was working so that I would never have to worry about money in retirement. I probably saved too much, but we are all shaped by our life experiences.
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#5
I don't consider myself to be prosperous.  Certainly more so than the "average" american, but I am guessing a far cry from many others on this forum. 
 
You left out an important 3rd option:  hard work.  I am not brilliant and I have encountered some bad luck along the way but I got myself to a point of relative comfort through hard work and frugality.  I am still working at age 60 and probably will not retire until my late 60s with a 45-year career of hard work.
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#6
It's not even close to binary.
 
Lucky as in inheriting a ton of money? It happens, but almost could be called an outlier. Inheriting enough money to run with and really turn into something? I dunno, that may be even more rare. Makes me wonder if there are any statistics on this sort of thing!
 
Pure brilliance? Define. Yes higher IQ people TEND to have more degrees and higher income.
 
OR just paying attention. I'm in this category. My dad as well - son of a an immigrant, legally migrated with nothing. My brother, although he got the brains. All achieved some decent level. My dad was a millionaire when it still meant something. He worked and saved, my mom saved every cent, we just lived modestly. The actual millionaire next door. I paid attention. I saved and invested and yes I made and make mistakes, but keep on keeping on.
 
I guess there may be some level of intelligence or some other issue (for any number of causes/reasons) at which a person can't pay attention so to speak. Intelligence, drinking/drugs, brain issues, etc....you name it. External and internal causes that prevent any person from achieving "prosperity".
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#7
There are a LOT of variables in that particular question.
 
Are you lucky if you make good decisions?
Are you unlucky if you make bad decisions?
Are you lucky if you actually learn from past mistakes?
I think common sense trumps brilliance.  Most of the time hard work puts you into a position to take advantage of the "lucky break".
 
I know brilliant people who don't have the sense to come in out of a hailstorm.  Actually, my daughter's one of those.  Ph.D, but her financial abilities wouldn't pass kindergarten.
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#8
I wouldn't consider myself as particularly brilliant and luck, I define as being able to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself and then implement a plan or strategy in order to capitalize on it. In, my case I think was a combination of being somewhat smart (not stupid), having some luck, as I define it, and a lot hard work while living below my means that made a success of obtaining prosperity in life.
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#9
Why are we here? Each of us? All of us? Anything at all? Let alone this?
 
That’s easy. Probabilities and chance. An incredible, improbable and incalculable series of winning rolls of creation’s dice.
 
In one sense, regardless of past circumstances, if the possibilities were eternal and infinite, then being here is inevitable. Sort of like if you have enough monkeys playing with enough typewriters eventually they’ll write Shakespeare.
 
Yikes, it’s predetermination. Why are we here? We had no choice. And why did we have know choice? Because of the choices we made.
 
Darn living is easy, but thinking is hard. Still, in these uncertain times, a person has to believe in something. I believe I’ll have a drink. Understandable. All that hurricane coverage would make anyone thirsty.
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