Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To get lucky, do lots of work

I don't watch TV or listen to the radio, but Ira Glass from "This American Life" never fails to inspire. In the below clip (5 min) from "Ira Glass on Storytelling", he talks about how as a beginner, your abilities will fall short of your "taste". The work you do doesn't seem to have that something special that you'd like it to have, and you know that the work is not "good enough". It is only after years of work that your skills will catch up to your taste.

What he describes resonates with me in a lot of what I do, and I really like his advice for people in this situation -- just do a lot of work. Produce a lot. Gain a lot of experience. Try different things.

A couple of days ago some blog or another pointed to the below, newer clip (24min). He gives an interesting perspective on journalism, and more interestingly, about luck. Glass talks about how as a journalist, recording an interesting interview is really about luck. In order to harness it, one needs to talk to a lot of people. Likewise, in order to "get lucky" and produce great work, one needs to produce a ton of work, most of them probably mediocre.

It sounds very simple and reasonable: the more times you roll a dice the higher your chances of getting a six at least once. This is why I'm skeptical of people claiming that so-and-so was successful because of "luck". Sure, luck can be involved, but luck can be very predictable. The person who pursues every opportunity, takes every chances, and produces a lot of work will be more "lucky" than the persons who don't.

End of Entry