Success Is More About Effort Than Luck


“It is only a game, you don’t have to hit me so hard.”

I smile and tell him that is why his team is going to lose. He tells me I need to back up the trash talk or it doesn’t count.

Fifteen minutes later my team has won and he is yelling for us to get back on the court because he wants a rematch. The third time I dive on the floor for the ball he goes with me but I outweigh him by at least a 100 pounds so he bounces off me like a pinball.

“Kid, don’t get in the way of a freight train. I won’t ever lose this fight. It is basic physics.”

Two hours later we walk off of the court and he reminds me they won two games.

“We took four. Five years ago we wouldn’t have lost any.”

He shakes his head and tells me it is just a game.

“Don’t you worry about getting hurt?”

I shake my head no.

“I play hard or I don’t play. Don’t have enough talent to half ass it and if I did I would be ashamed of myself for not trying harder.”


The 19 year-old kid I mentioned above is a real person and that was a real exchange between us. The conversation was friendly and though I barely know him my intent was to try and teach him something.

Don’t know if that is obnoxious or pretentious on my part but after setting picks that rattled his teeth and crashing through the screens he set I felt like it was only fair to share a tip he could use for his own success.

Success Is More About Effort Than Luck

Somewhere in the pages here are a comment or two about why sometimes it is better to be lucky than talented. Call that a comment on how sometimes some people have tremendous success not because they are smart or good at what they do but because they won the birth parent lottery.

If mom and dad own an empire and you are born into it well, that is a good thing for you but it doesn’t mean you deserve it or get it because you worked hard. Just means you are lucky.

That is really not a value judgment, it is a comment.

But that doesn’t mean those of us who don’t seem to have the same kind of luck because good things come to those who put the effort into making things happen.

A cynical person might respond to that by pointing out how bad things happen to good people and how working hard doesn’t always translate into the type of good things I am referring to.

I take a middle position here and teach my children to do so as well. We might not be able to guarantee that working hard is going to give us all we hope to achieve but it is more likely to help than hurt us.

It is the type of attitude that lends itself to sleeping well at night because it is much easier to close your eyes at night and feel good about yourself when you know you tried hard than when you didn’t put in the effort.

Sometimes that effort doesn’t yield the results you want it to. I am frustrated with how He Named His Intention Texas came out because it fell short of the mark I set for it.

But I published it because sometimes the way you improve is by looking at what you did so that you can figure out how not to make the same mistakes again.

Sometimes truth is better than fiction.

Sometimes truth is better than fiction.

Sometimes heroes fail to save the day and sometimes murderers save lives. Part of the absurdity of life are the daily contradictions we encounter.

The kids tell me stories about how the kids who are jerks to everyone sometimes break character and do something really nice for someone else.

Can’t tell you how many times I pulled a card from the deck praying I’d get the Ace of Spades and discovered I pulled the Joker. But some of those moments where I wished I could punch that fool in the face led to places I never expected to reach.

I like to believe that effort had something to do with it because in the moments leading up to that one I created a chance to turn possibility into opportunity.

That 19 year-old kid and his team should have beaten us at least fifty percent of the time. They had youth and talent on their side but they lacked effort and I took advantage of youthful naivete the same way the old guys once did to me.

I suppose it is proof that maybe this hard head of mine isn’t so damn thick. Maybe I have learned a thing or two.

When it comes to writing I’d sum it up by saying my favorite thing to do is tell a simple story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Some people mistake simple for being an insult but it is not.

If the goal is to tell a story that people respond and relate to simple is the way to go. Don’t mistake it for condescending either because that is not it.

Simple is the comfort food of writing. It is what you read when you feel blue or sick and where you go when you just need something to warm your heart.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”― Neil Gaiman
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  1. Larry December 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Luck can only get you so far. Eventually, it will be discovered. Effort will always be appreciated and the road will know no end.

    • The JackB December 18, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Effort, effort, effort. The kids I coach know that is my mantra. If you try hard and you fail or fall short you can sleep knowing you did your best. But anything less than real effort is just not right.

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