Monday, June 26, 2006

dumb luck

Dumb luck is everywhere. I recently found out that a guy I went to college with was just named general counsel for a professional sports team (he graduated three years ahead of me and went straight to law school, while I had another career before law school, so that’s why he’s so far ahead of me). So I called him and asked him how he got such a terrific job. His answer: dumb luck. I’m sure he was being slightly modest – he must be a terrific lawyer who did well on his interviews and had references who spoke highly of him. But he had no contacts in professional sports, so he had no inside track. He was just in the right place at the right time and one thing led to another and he got a dream job. Again, it’s not like he’s a stumbling, bumbling idiot. He’s probably a talented worker who worked extremely hard in the two jobs he had before getting this job. But he got the job through dumb luck. I don’t begrudge him the position at all. I’m happy for him. But it’s frustrating to see a prime example of a situation which you have absolutely no control over.

I realize it’s easy to say that to some extent, everything’s a product of dumb luck. If my dad hadn’t been assigned to the booth at the amusement park that he was assigned to where my mom was working in the next booth, I wouldn’t have been born. If I hadn’t accepted a job that put me in contact with a guy who helped me get my next job (after I bombed the interview), I wouldn’t have met my wife. But that’s not the type of dumb luck I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind of luck where you expect to have control over your life, or think you should be able to control things. But you can’t. It’s all about luck.

I guess the best way to rationalize this is to say we make our own luck. As I said, he’s probably a great lawyer and a good guy who gives off a great impression in interviews. So in that sense, he made his own luck. But did he? He was working in-house for a company. He spent a few weeks working with another lawyer (mostly on the phone) and at the end of the matter, that lawyer said something like ‘hey, would you ever consider moving out to this part of the country because one of my clients is looking for a general counsel?’ My friend’s reaction: ‘no way…I’m from the Midwest and so is my wife and I have no desire to leave.’ Then the lawyer identifies the client and my friend says ‘I’m in.” Something about the way my friend acted or worked must have impressed this guy, which is why he recommended him to the sports team. That's probably not luck, is it?

But so much of it is totally random. I had some of that luck in my previous career, but it only got so far and it ran out when I needed it later on. Oh well. I have no final point to make.


At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAHA you are the offspring of Carnies!! HAHAHAHAHAHA


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