You "Can" Win

The world around us is full of movies, books, songs, talks telling stories of personalities, heroes who overcame odds to emerge victorious. Most of these stories tell a similar tale. That of perseverance, commitment, work ethic, attitude, passion, determination, motivation and their significant role in success, victories, achievements. The aforementioned channels are wonderful ways of motivating oneself. But are the qualities that they promote really that powerful? Can these stand on their own feet?Can these do without the support of what I call the Game Changers?
The oscar-nominated movie Lagaan, Mohnish Pabrai talk in our college, “The Winning Way” by Harsha Bhogle, all wonderful and thoughtful creations,conveniently shrug off the two game changers:
1. Talent/Intelligence
2. Luck

Right from our school days, we observe students who, though never seen studying, do well in the exams. They just tend to analyze, comprehend and remember things well and better than most others. My neighbour Ankush was one such guy. An IITian, he could manage to play tennis, go jgging, play loud music, watch movie, take lectures at TIME, crack CAT, pass CFA and still maintain an excellent CG! Forget work ethic, practice, commitment. He is born intelligent. Talent is exactly that. You are just born with it. You can acquire the skills, knowledge by utilizing your talent. If you are talented, you have a big lead even before the race has started. No amount of classical training can make you a Lata Mangeshkar/Mohammed Rafi if you don’t have the voice. Sachin Tendulkar puts in hours of practice even today. But his genius was spotted at the early age of 14.
I follow domestic cricket closely and when I talk of luck, Amol Muzumdar is the first name that comes to mind. India’s best domestic player for many years in the late 90s and early 2000s, he unfortunately could never make it to the Indian team because of the faulty zonal selection policies. Coming from the Ranji team of Mumbai which then boasted of stars like Sachin, Manjrekar, Kambli, Agarkar, he probably played in the wrong era. Luck is thus mainly about being at the right place at the right time. Recently, Prof Sanjay Bakshi, deep value investor and professor at MDI, spent a good 1 hr of his lecture talking about luck. Though it is perceived as being completely out of our control,as Prof Bakshi says, one can expose oneself to luck, good luck that is. Though there is always an element of chance, it favors the prepared mind leading to pleasant surprises, the entire process beautifully explained by a single word- serendipity.But this isn’t easy. If I ask you to name Hindi singers from the 1960s & 70s, how many would you mention? 5-6? Imagine how many talented singers in spite of committment, practice, work ethic and passion couldn’t make it big!
Since talent and luck are both absolute and uncontrollable, I understand the stress on other factors by the creators of inspirational books, movies and the like. But they should acknowledge the role played by talent and luck rather than just making a passing reference to them. Because without them, it is an open-and-shut case.

One comment

  1. manukulkarni · December 31, 2011

    Couldn't agree more with your post.
    I would like to add one thing..
    Prof. Sanjay Bakshi also said that one can be prepared by trying to be at the most happening places so that your chances of being at the right place at the right time increases.
    Then again, who is to say, whether what we perceive to be the most “happening” places are really that happening at all. Or are they just like those glamorous sectors where everyone invests out of euphoria


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