Does success happen by chance?

Over the years, I’ve read a ton of success stories.

I’ve spent nights researching the secret ingredients of success…

Wake up at 5 am. Read a self-help-book daily. Exercise like your life depends on it. Never stop learning. Put in 10,000 hours…

I’ve read them all.

But one big question that remains unanswered is this: Is success all about good luck?

Bill Gates was one of only a handful of teenagers in America who had access to a computer in the late 1960s. His mother was on the board of IBM. And because of this, he had a head start in his career and success. Lucky!

What about Oprah? Even though she was so poor that she had to wear potato sacks as a dress, Oprah was a child genius. She had talent in reading and speaking publicly at only age 3. Lucky!

Mark Zuckerberg? He was born from a well off family. His parents were able to nurture his talent. He could easily drop out of school to follow his dreams. He didn’t have any responsibilities, anyway. Lucky!

Rihanna? Well, she was born talented. And even though she came from a family of poverty, a high-powered music executive quickly discovered her beauty and talent. That couldn’t have happened to just anyone. Lucky!

Take a look around at the world’s most successful people.

Were they all just lucky? Or is there more to success than just chance?

The simple answer is this: ‘If you don’t work hard, you’ll never know how lucky you are.”

Unfair advantages exist. But success is much more than just luck. It’s where opportunity meets preparedness. 

Success doesn’t happen by chance.

Where opportunity meets preparedness

While at school, the administration saw Bill Gates excelling in programming. He was already putting in the hours. So they invested in a computer from the General Electric Company. That wasn’t luck, it was hard work.

Oprah worked so hard to be the first woman to own a production company. Between 2004 – 2006 she was the only black female billionaire in the world. Getting there wasn’t about luck, it was diligence.

And Mark Zuckerberg? He struggled to secure funding. Facebook was the first of its kind, so getting people to believe in him was nearly impossible. But he did. That wasn’t luck. It was determination.

Rihanna’s childhood was defined by pain, abuse, drug use, poverty, and illness. And not just that. As recently as 2017, she was on the road to bankruptcy. She has had to contend with racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination in all avenues of life and business. Yet still, in 2022, she was said to be the youngest self-made billionaire.

This is the danger of a single story, as Chimamanda Adichie once alluded. We look at successful people, and we almost ignore the hours they had to put in to get to where they are. When in fact, if you look keenly, hard work almost always precedes success.

All these examples lead me to believe that success does not just happen by chance. It happens by hard work and resilience. And as Tennessee Williams once said, luck is just about believing that you’re lucky.

Lessons to be learnt

1. Never give up

Business can be REALLY hard!

And as business owners, we’ve probably all gotten to a point where we ask ourselves, “Is all this really worth it?”

Maybe you’re spending too much time and not getting enough returns. Or it just feels so much harder than it should be.

It could be anything, really. Trust me, I get it.

But before you quit, seek external support. Look for ways to outsource. Consider using a default diary to manage your time.

Prioritise your health. Find tactics or coping strategies lie journaling and meditation.

One of my favourite quotes goes, “When things get tough, learn to rest. Not to quit.”

Similarly, find a way to work through your problems. You never know. You just might be three feet from gold.

2. Don’t wait for luck. Make luck.

“A friend once told me I was “so lucky” at landing a dream marketing job. 

I had spent most evenings for the year prior to it studying simultaneous modules with The Chartered Institute of Marketing, in order to fast track my qualification and make the move happen.

I was privileged, definitely. Spare time to spend studying, funds to put myself through that study privately, no dependents, and the energy to occasionally burn the candle at both ends to finish my assignments on time.

But lucky? That raised an eyebrow.” ~ Amy Elise Walter

We spend an awful amount of time comparing our journey to other people’s.

It often looks as though people are just lucky and we’re not.

But they’re not.

Luck is where opportunity meets preparedness.

How prepared are you for success? What structures have you put in place? And what things are you doing today to get to that success?

Don’t wait for luck. Create your own. Work hard to make your dreams come true.

3. Put in the work

I’ve repeated it over and over again that there’s no such thing as overnight success.

Every success story that seemed like it happened overnight is a lie.

Hard work went into it. And probably some tears.

But the difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is one thing: The successful just keep going.

They see failures as lessons. And they don’t dwell on them for too long.

If you look closely, no one’s journey is a straight line. It has ups and downs. The trick? Just keep at it.

Or, as Dory from Finding Nemo would say, “Just keep swimming!”


Success does not happen by chance. It happens by hard work. 

And hard work is not an easy task. You will be tried and tested. But if you keep going, the opportunity will meet you prepared. And other people will call it luck.

We make our own luck, and the difference between the lucky and unlucky is perspective.

In summary,

  1. Never give up
  2. Don’t wait for luck. Make luck
  3. Put in the work

If you’d like support to find your success get in touch or take a look at our 1-2-1 coaching.

Dream big



Related Posts

Thanks for checking out our blogs!

Outside ideas is an entrepreneurial business growth company, & we're on a mission to help people & businesses grow.

Offering 1-2-1 Coaching, Mastermind Groups, Networking & access to a kick ass community – as well as business workshops & free resources.

Here's our upcoming events...

Here's some more of our latest blogs...