Great post in Derek's blog.
"When you're surrounded by successful people, it feels so easy, it's obvious. Their attitude and actions rub off on you.
But I meet so many people that feel that success is so far away, so impossible to imagine, that they act accordingly, aim low, and complete the self-defeating circle.
I know much of success is luck, but I never realized how much the mindset of success comes from who you know.
Luckily, who you know is up to you, not luck."
Go check it out: http://sivers.org/xn
Wow that's pretty cool and totally true. I learned this the hard way looking to get employed. I spent so much time trying to prove my technical worth that I kind of didn't pay much attention to likeability and personality traits. Despite being judged very competent time and time again I never got the job. It was only later did I realize that social skills come first - you'll be working with these people and thus they will need to LIKE you to prevent social drama from destroying the team. I'd dare say for most jobs competency is meaningless these days as if they like you enough they'll help you get up to speed. You just need to fit in with them first.
I also find it shocking how many jobs are given just from reference without any further evaluation or scrutiny. I was reading American in Korea's blog and in Korea it seems the opposite of how it is in the states - your past schools and test status determine your fate. In the good ol' US though it's definitely who you know with job skill placing near the bottom.
I hear people talk about luck a lot. Straightup - luck doesn't exist.
If you believe in luck, then you believe either: (1) some people consistently defy probability, or, (2) some things aren't a result of cause and effect.
Life is a series of probability. Every day, there's a chance that a given set of things will happen. If you want to have a successful life, expose yourself to as much high-upside low-downside probability as you can. Any given thing you do might not work out, but if you expose yourself to high-upside low-downside, good things will happen. Read books, reach out to people, try to get projects working, keep trying to write and build things, keep learning new skills, keep treating people well.
If you want to fail at life, expose yourself to high-downside no-upside probability. This is short term gain at long term expense type stuff. Cigarettes. Unsecured debt for consumption. Most TV.
You'll keep getting "lucky" if you keep exposing yourself to things with upside and limited downside. If you get an amazing job or contract that you had a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting, were you lucky? No, especially not if you applied and pitched 1,000 other places. If you say, "Ok, I'm going to keep trying to get what I want until I do" you'll get it, as long as it's a positive sum game you're playing.
Back when I was gambling professionally, it seemed like everyone had an opinion on which casino was rigged. I never really thought that, but I also didn't really think that I was winning as much as I was supposed to. To test this, I recorded every single session I played for over a year. Guess what? I was within a fraction of one percent from where I was supposed to be statistically. I learned that not only were the casinos not rigged, I wasn't very good at mentally aggregating lots of independent events.
I think that in real life, we all have a natural inability or unwillingness to accept that we generally receive what we deserve. Before I get into this, though, I'll say that it definitely isn't true all of the time. I offer the idea here just a useful tool and framework, not to pass judgement. For example, I know people who have lost close family members, people who have been raped, and people who have been affected by other horrible things. I don't think that they deserve those things or earned them in some way. I think they're an unfortunate side effect of the chaos and variance of life, which is otherwise a good thing.
When I was around twenty, I knew for a fact that I would become rich by the age of twenty-five. Twenty five was really old and I knew that I was special, so it made perfect sense to me that I'd be rich by then. I put in a moderate amount of effort, and made moderate progress towards my goal, but didn't really even close. When I turned twenty five, I was at least a little bit surprised that I wasn't a millionaire yet.
I'm still not a millionaire, but I'm not surprised about it anymore. I've seen people work harder than me and work smarter than me and become rich. I've seen the dedication it takes, and I've seen how that compares to what I have typically put in.