Project 313 – Post No. 074

There’s a narrative that has been irritating me more and more each passing day. It’s something I used to believe. It’s something that’s is at the cornerstone if not the entire foundation of our country’s identity. 

It’s the idea that all you need to succeed is to work hard. That’s it. Work hard and the world is yours . . . so says every successful person in the world. 

Let me tell you a secret. A secret that the majority of people intuitively know. That view is the stuff that comes out from right under the tail of a bull. 

That’s not to say that hard work is not a part of the overall mechanism of success. 

Let me give you an extreme example. Say I play the lotto (I do). Say I happen to defy the 1:272,000,000 odds and win a jackpot (very and extremely unlikely). I might be then tempted to say I worked very hard at never missing buying a ticket. I might even say that deep down I always “knew” I would someday win and that’s why I persevered. 

The problem with that is that there are literally millions of other people who worked just as hard and believe just as feverishly they are destined to win. What it actually took was chance (some call it “luck”). Sure, it will never happen if I don’t play the lotto, but chance/luck was a major player in the end result. 

Ask a successful person why they are successful and here’s what you’ll never hear:

“Well, I was born of a well-to-do family. Both my parents were fairly smart and I was lucky to inherit their intellect. Not genius, but slightly above average. Also, they were of above average height and I inherited that too. They also passed on genetic features that are happily considered attractive in our current society. I was able to attend a prestigious university where my looks helped me developed great contacts that served me well later on in life. One of those contacts had an idea for a product they wanted to develop and I borrowed some seed money from my parents to form a start-up. We were competing with a few other similar companies but another friend of mine gave us a favorable review in a national trade magazine and yet another friend put me in contact with a person who had a wide social platform and who featured our product as a must-have status symbol. As the buzz increased, we caught the attention of a huge conglomerate who offered us many millions of dollars for our product. And here I stand before you to tell you that if you work hard, you too can make it.”

What you’ll instead hear is this:

“Well, we always believed in ourselves and the usefulness of our product. We worked tirelessly to promote and bring the product to increasingly wider audiences and eventually our hard work paid off when a huge conglomerate who offered us many millions of dollars for our product. And here I stand before you to tell you that if you work hard, you too can make it.”

Don’t believe me? Listen to any successful person and see which version you hear. Pick any one of them; I’ll wait while you do a search.

Again, I stress that hard work is a part of the success we all have. But, I equally stress it’s also only a part and it might isn’t even the important part. For instance, in today’s world, and in every industry, unless you have connections you’re not going to get far no matter how hard you work. 

But more than that, unless you have the opportunity, it doesn’t matter how hard you work. There are people here on the island that work two and three jobs and raise children. You think they’re not working hard? But, more than that, do you think they can take the risk of investing everything they have into some entrepreneurial gamble that has a small chance of succeeding? I mean, they might if they have connections, are in the right place at the right time, someone else funds them, etc. etc.  What they won’t do is put their family at risk of being homeless in the pursuit of a low-probability-high-risk venture.  

Take a look at the recording industry . . . how many short ugly people do you see being followed by millions of fans? Movie stars? 

How many short players do you see playing at the top of almost any sport? Yes, excluding horse racing. But, even in horse racing, do you ever see “regular” horses compete and win? When you watch a race, do you think the other horses are not “working hard”? It’s not hard work that wins a horse race but a genetic advantage. Plus, there could be a horse somewhere in the world that could outrun all of today’s champions . . . but it’s pulling a cart in the middle of nowhere because that’s where it was born. 

I mention all this because there’s an ugly aspect to this narrative . . . it’s this: if you see someone down in their luck, homeless, or otherwise in dire straits, it’s immediately obvious to you they must be lazy and unwilling to work hard. 

I mean, look at all those lazy immigrants coming here looking for handouts. Lazy bastards!

People on welfare? Obviously, they would rather do nothing and live in squalor than work hard and make something of themselves. Why, if they applied themselves, they could be CEOs of a big conglomerate and — hopefully — when they make it, they won’t turn their back on all the contacts they made while they were homeless. 

Again, I stress that I’m not saying it can’t be done, but that it takes more than hard work.

There are lots of sayings relating to working hard and success . . . let me add one of my own:
It’s not enough to want something badly enough and it’s not enough to work hard at something you want badly. You must also have the opportunity, the ability, be at the right time and place, have a capable support team helping you, not have competitors that are better more ruthless than you, and hope none of the obstacles you’ll face are beyond your and your team’s ability to overcome. Oh . . . and money. 

In case anyone is wondering and asking about me and what I’ve done and do . . . I can’t say I’ve ever worked very hard at anything I’ve ever done. Most things I undertake come easy for me and usually with as little effort as I can muster. As a Bizarro cartoon aptly put it, I’m just aiming to be an inferior version of someone better than me.

Believe me, I recognize both the “good luck” that got me where I am today and the “bad luck” that played a part in keeping me from going even further. I don’t take credit for the former and I don’t obsess about the latter. I also can’t tell others what they should be doing to be like me (not that there’s a long line of people asking). 

I can’t because no matter what, they’re not me and whatever path I followed, it’s not available to anyone else. So please, if you’re a gazillionaire reading this, next time someone asks you about your success . . . don’t say it’s all due to hard work. Tell them the truth; tell them it’s because you read my blog. 

And now, the photo:

Project 313 074

The above looks even better in color . . . but I decided to show the B&W version first. So, if you consider the two versions, nothing they did got them here first . . . I made the decision and they had no agency in the final outcome. But, I bet if you ask the photo above, it would tell you it worked hard and it just knew it would someday make it to the Big Time. 

If you’re a golfer, you’ll appreciate this next joke. If not . . . well, back luck for you.

The thing is, I don’t think Will ‘n Ethel as golfers. I mean, they could be, but the outfits look out of place. Still, funny joke. 

Today’s doodle has a weird title — Indian Attack — primarily driven by the look of the lines pointing to the center. They look, to me, like the fletchings of arrows. That, in turn, gave rise to an image of arrows aimed at wagons in a circle.  

Indian Attack

And . . . that’s it

Some of these posts will likely be longer as the mood hits me, but most will be thus; short, uninteresting, bland, and relentless.

You can read about Project 313 HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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