I was listening to a Motley Fool podcast yesterday where one of the commentators made a quippy remark that really resonated with me. To paraphrase:
It is important to recognize when you are smart and when you are lucky.
I feel as though I’ve led a charmed life. A loving wife, great family, interesting friends, fulfilling hobbies and the piece of mind to take life’s challenges in stride. Some of those things are because, I like to think, of my intelligence and some are fruitful happenstance. Some things are a combination and I’ll wager that Adie was smart while I was lucky when we started dating.
The obvious question is how do you differentiate? Perhaps a good way is to honestly and objectively analyze situations. One thing to accept is that it is not something that I can do by myself.
Being smart enables you to spot and seize advantageous situations – something like making your own luck. To follow the reasoning a little further seems to indicate that there is no such thing as luck. Good things come down to your ability to see imbalances and use them. Why should I care if events in my life are a result of good preparation or alignment of the stars? Does luck exist?
There are many things out of my control from acts of Nature to being born. Even though they are out of my hands some of these things I can predict and prepare for. It is the unpredictable, uncontrollable events comprise my luck.
A final point: why do I need to learn this lesson? Between making smart decisions and being lucky, one is repeatable and one always runs out.
Recently I struck upon two principles that, I hope, will guide my decisions.
Nothing in life is maintenance-free.
Seems simple. However it is also simple to settle into routine and take things for granted. My car needs periodic work, as does my house and health, but less obvious to me are relationships and knowledge base. The maintenance may be easy and infrequent but I must keep it in mind perhaps and even schedule it like three-month oil changes.
Being average is mindless and above-average is easy. Becoming good takes hard work.
I can get by most of the time with doing something and not thinking about it too much. I am an average yard-mower because I just walk back and forth across the lawn and that does the job in a reasonable amount of time. My health, on the other hand, is above average because I put effort into exercising and eating better than most. I am good at my job because I’ve been in the industry for a decade, read in depth, and dedicated much time to improving myself.
My goal is to evaluate my activities with these principles in mind. It now becomes important to identify the things I need to do to maintain my life and put time into keeping up the things I want. Adrienne and I have a shining relationship, but we had not discovered how we polish it until recently. I will also decide what level of effort I want to exert on these activities. It is okay for me to be an average lawn-mower and have above-average health. In the end, I would like to be good at my life, which takes effort, planning and deep introspection.
My thirty-third birthday approaches, arriving on the 22nd of October. I always get thoughtful presents from family and friends, but this year I have a specific request. Instead of buying me something, please make a donation to one of my favorite charities in the amount you would normally spend on a present.
If you would like to wish me a happy birthday I will throw a little party on the 25th. If you can’t make it personally please send me a card at my new address:
2001 Cobblestone Ln
Bryan, TX 77807
I know spending money is sometimes hard to come by, especially in these uncertain financial times. Apart from missing family and friends my life is going well, so I would like to do something for the greater good. Please help me out.