There is no luck without skill. Just show up

Luck is also a skill
— My Father

I embraced this idea of skilled people generating their own luck. This doesn't mean I don't believe in luck. 

To the contrary.

I 100% believe there is luck out there and plenty of people have benefited from it. I've personally benefited from it. To reference one of Buffet's top sayings, I too got lucky with the ovarian lottery to start with. I was born into a great family and with great health. No doubt luck was involved in that one. 

The debate between luck and skill is dominant in the investing world. But I daresay I've seen it growing in reference to numerous other fields as well (i.e. entrepreneurship, athletics).  

To be honest I used to reject luck not too long ago. I hated thinking "chance" or some unseen force had impacted the result that I had worked so hard to achieve.... or rather.... earn. Though I later realized that "luck" was commonly used as a cop-out excuse by many to compensate for their own insecurity. This made me believe that believing in luck wasn't enough. It's believing luck, that uncontrollable force, is nothing without skill. 

The role of luck in sports is a commonly discussed topic. In Michael Maubossin's Success Equation he ranks sports by ones that are considered to have higher factors of luck involved vs. skill for the outcome of a game. Basketball had the least luck and most skill associated with the sport and hockey was the one with more luck involved than skill. 

Now hockey fans don't get angry. But it's true. When you see a puck ricocheting off someone's skate, then stick, then a post to go in it's hard to say that was skill. 

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take
— Wayne Gretzky

Ah, but despite the involvement of luck, every player needs a certain level of skill. Every player needed to show up to practice all those years and they need to show up with the right physical and mental condition to each game. Sure, the goal going in after numerous bounces is lucky. But the guy who took the shot was skilled. He needed to have the skill level to be in that position, have the hockey IQ to get in that position to have the courage to take that shot over passing it to someone else. 

Continuing with sports analogies, I had a similar experience myself. After a three year hiatus from the powerlifting circuit from a torn meniscus, I competed in my first competition this March. I successfully completed my surgery rehab and trained for a full year for the competition. My training had gone well until I lightly injured my shoulder three weeks prior to the competition. Despite the injury, I competed and came first in my weight class and second among all male lifters. Now that was the result. But I must say there was luck involved. The meet was a tight competition between myself and the guy who came in second place in my weight class. It honestly came down to the final lift where he was not able to successfully hit his deadlift. Because he failed his lift, I was automatically in the first place. If he had made the lift then I would've had to go for a heavier attempt myself and who knows how that may have turned out. 

How strong my competitors are is not within my control. How well they do or not do is up to them. But like in all competitions, my competitors not performing to their best is to my advantage. I would consider that luck. But, no matter how poorly my competition may do, me not performing at my best may just create a missed opportunity that I did not capitalize on. To capitalize on that opportunity, I need skill. I can't just show up randomly and hope to pick up 500lbs. Physiologically that just doesn't happen. It took years of training, training pre-surgery, diligently doing rehab post-surgery, not missing weight training sessions or cardio sessions, not skipping stretching or warm ups, maintaining proper diets and sleep schedules. That's what skill is. You get skilled at something through practice. Practice isn't just the direct task of lifting something continuously but the full system you create to aid yourself physically and mentally to execute each practice session. That's what it means to become skilled. Skill had me lift a total of 557.5kgs at the meet. Whether that is enough to win was not up to me but up to my fellow competitors. 

Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance. Professionals understand when good outcomes are the result of luck
— Shane Parrish

Whether you are an athlete, investor, entrepreneur or whatever you self identify as there will be a way to approach it as a professional or amateur. Steven Pressfield describes amateurs as those who choose to do something as a hobby and professionals as those who chose to show up no matter what, rain or shine. I too believe in this description and want to add on that another layer is the mindset on the role of luck. As a professional, one should recognize the areas of the profession that one can work on. That is the skilled element. For an investor, it can be on training yourself on having the conviction to hold an investment. For an entrepreneur, it could be on continuously creating products the core customers (i.e. 1000 true fans) want over decades. Luck is the thing that comes after you continuously show up to work on all of those. 

Great opportunities never have ‘great opportunity’ in the subject line
— Scott Belsky

The importance is on showing up. How would you capitalize on an opportunity if you don't show up? 

Showing up is everything related to your profession. It's also about showing up with intent and purpose. Not just aimlessly smashing your hands on a keyboard or walking into an office but knowing why you are doing what you do. Show up with intent to further your growth in whatever your profession is. It can be direct or indirect. It's reading a book every day for 30 minutes, getting quality sleep for physical and mental performance, training at the gym, keeping a solid diet, expanding your network, anything you feel will help you develop the core skills related to becoming top in your profession. Only when you consistently show up will you even have a chance to seize that opportunity and only when you say "Yes" will you let "luck" play a role. 

That is what I think when I hear some of the world's top performers discuss the role that luck played in their lives. Most never stopped showing up and that allowed luck to transpire. The ones who believe the result was entirely due to luck are the folks who don't know what it means to show up every day. It may be because they are always in the mindset of the amateur. Whatever you are passionate in, obsessed with, excited by, you can choose to be a professional about it. This means showing up every day for it. That is the only way you'll let opportunity find you and only way that lady luck may decide to grace you with her presence. 

Earn your luck.