The Balance Of Luck And Talent


Although individuals are often held responsible for their success throughout life, recent studies and ideas have helped prove that success may be based more on luck than talent. Success is often considered the product of an individual’s hard work, but in recent light, factors such as being born in a certain time period, having loving parents, and having inspiring professors all may play a larger part than talent in the development of an individual’s achievement. Despite many people wanting to attribute their success to hard work and grit it is now clear that external, uncontrollable factors play just as large a part in ones success.

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Impact on Society

Success within western culture is often accredited to hard work, intelligence, risk taking, willfulness, and a multitude of other traits, but the importance of luck in an individual’s road to success is often overlooked. Within todays competitive job market talent and hard work are essential to success, but are not an independent factor in their equation of success. A study conducted by A. Pluchino examines the importantance of luck, basing dollars earned as a measurement of an individual’s success. According to Pluchino’s models the most talented peoples were often not the most successful because unlike their peers they lacked a high level of luck. Only 20% of the most successful people in the experiment had high levels of skill and moderate to low levels of luck (Pluchino, 2018). The study also showed that about 70% of talented people with no luck were in the bottom 20% of people in the study (Pluchino, 2018). These statistics not only provide factual evidence that luck plays a large role in success, but also allows us to evaluate ways we can provide talented people lacking luck with more opportunities. By providing these talented individuals with better opportunities we can maximize their skill set into society allowing them to have more control over their destiny and eventual level of success.

Relevance to Personal Experience

Within his personal experience this author has been fairly successful in a few areas of his life. These fields include sports and academics. Although this author has often attributed his success to hard work and specific skills he has built over time, research within this paper has caused him to evaluate his how much luck has played an impact in what he has accomplished. This author has been academically very successful maintaining a 4.0 throughout high school while taking a rigorous set of class work. Although he often feels these achievements have been met through hard work it is clear that certain uncontrollable variables played a large part in his success. These variables include the family he was born into, the high school he went to, and the teachers he has had throughout high school. All these factors are completely based on luck and without them his academic career could have taken a very different path. The author has also built a fairly strong, athletic resume throughout his childhood years. Despite the time and effort the author has put into becoming the best athlete possible, it is undeniable that genetics and family culture has played a large role in his athletic career. Being born to a family that appreciates and promotes sports has enabled to the author to have an advantage over many kids whose parents may downplay sports as a waste of time. The research presented within this paper has enabled the author to personally reflect on and appreciate the luck he has received throughout life that has allowed him to flourish in these areas.


It is clear that although hard work plays a part in success, luck must be identified as a major factor in an individual’s success. Realizing the factors of luck in ones life enables them to build a more modest and humble version of themselves and the way they identify success within their life. Identifying individual with little luck, but a high level of talent is also important because it enables society to give the most talented people possessions that they can flourish in. It is essential we as humans learn how to evaluate luck and skill and how important of a role they play in someone’s career.


  1. Pluchino, A., Biondo, A. E., & Rapisarda, A. (2018). Talent Versus Luck: The Role Of Randomness In Success And Failure. Advances in Complex Systems, 21(03n04), 1850014.
  2. Shermer, M. (2017). What Is the Secret of Success?. Scientific American, 317(5), 80-80.
01 August 2022

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