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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Luck plays its part, 24 July 2013
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This review is from: Luck: A Fresh Look At Fortune (Paperback)
This is an interesting, well written and engaging book that shows how superstitious many people are. If somebody is up there turning the wheel of fortune, then there are "lucky pants" on both sides of the game to be allocated their share of luck. As I am not a fan of cricket, I was more interested in some of the stories about how, with different outcomes, the world map could have looked very different, particularly as both Hitler and Churchill came close to being killed in car accidents. I also enjoyed the interview with the ww2 Battle of Britain pilot, where it was a magnificant achievement getting an insightful and honest 4 hour interview from a 94 year old veteran.

I was interested to that it was a brit and not an american who founded the genre of self help. The writer is correct to say that if all sports people train hard then the only differences are luck and talent. I agree also that luck plays a big role. However, I also believe that luck and opportunity are only fully explored when there is preparedness for such an opening. The Author strongly dislikes the prevalent American view that "you make your own luck" and "there's no such thing as as luck". However, his view seems to be that its mostly about luck. I take an in-between view that luck often shows up once you are doing the right things and that some people are very good at making the most of this. Therefore I think some readers may prefer
The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind for a more research based but still highly readable take on the subject.The Luck Habit: What the Luckiest People Think, Know and Do ... and How it Can Change Your Life for improving your luckThe Luck Factor: Why Some People Are Luckier Than Others and How You Can Become One of Them about embracing risk
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Aug 2013 22:41:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Aug 2013 22:42:26 BDT
Pardo says:
Interesting review. There is an interesting line in Thinking, Fast and Slow that says that success is the result of talent, hard work and luck - but that great success is the result of a little bit more talent, a little bit more hard work, and a heck of a lot more luck.

The sad fact is that it is possible to be successful with little talent, and I've seen astonishingly lazy people achieve great things, but I don't think anyone succeeds without luck. Hard work means that you develop your talent to the best of your ability - this means that when the randomness of life throws up opportunities you are better placed to exploit them, and when it throws up challenges you are better placed to withstand them but no amount of talent or hard work can have much impact on whether or not those good or bad bits of luck occur.

Humans tend to overplay the role of bad luck in their failures but downplay or forget totally the role of luck in their success. Perhaps fixing that would mean we would all be a little bit more self critical about our failures and a lot more humble about our successes. Who knows, if everyone was honest about the luck involved in their successes then we might have a lot fewer tax avoiders!

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Aug 2013 11:17:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Aug 2013 11:25:21 BDT
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my review. I appreciate you quoting from another book which helps put your observations into a context. I have yet to tackle the thinking fast book but acknowledge that it could be a useful perspective in my quest to understand myself and other people, through observation and judgement. I find Amazon reviews essential in helping to narrow the choice of reading to my personal preference of a book to be both well researched and accessible. As I am a non-academic, research-paper type work would be impenetrable to me and newspaper type baseless, groundless, hot air, sensation and opinionated padding between adverts doesn't advance me. I am therefore looking for those authors that can absorb knowledge and pass it on in a clear and compelling manner.

I am interested by your observations of luck. I wonder if the "lazy people" you have observed achieving great things did so because of the time and space they allowed themselves to observe and analyse whilst delegating the doing to others who do "doing" better than them. EgThe 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich This is a deceptively hard skill to master.

You have eloquently described how hard working people seize opportunities. Opportunities pop up throughout life so that if you mess up on one then it isn't time to give up hope but to keep alert for the next time. Luck (or substitute opportunity) is a random distribution to those who happen to be around at the time. However, you could give the same lucky break to a hundred people. Some would not notice it. Some would wait to see what others do. Some would mishandle it. Some would see it but would take insufficient action. The rare few run with the flow and make it produce results. Certainly we have all encountered stories of people who have triumphed in the face of overwhelming odds and adversity and have also seen those that have "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory" and messed up. e.g. lottery winners and celebrities. You remark that it is a "sad fact" that it is possible to succeed with little talent. My personal take (as my talent bank is a tad light) is that there is something to aim for, work for and hope for.

Thinking fast, according to reviews is a major undertaking to have read so well done there "pardo". I would be interested to know your thoughts on other similar works.

Regards Steve

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Aug 2013 22:03:41 BDT
Pardo says:
Hi Steve,

Thinking Fast is certainly on the hefty side but the chapters are short which helps! The first few chapters are some of the hardest going though so if you do try it don't be put off too early. However, a guy who is very readable, and who draws on his work, is Dan Ariely. His books, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home, and The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty are all worth reading (and are usually in local libraries!). He also has a free online course available through coursera (google "coursera" and search for "A Beginners guide to irrationaliy" I think). The other one I found both readable and interesting was Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.


In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2013 09:09:34 BDT
You have convinced me. I will definitely tackle thinking fast but as I am not looking for a text book, more a quick start operators manual, I will also chose one from your other three suggestions. You are clearly feeding your mind very comprehensively. Is it producing results for you? I thank you for your further response. It has been useful for me.
I am currently reading Switch by Dan and Chip Heath and hope to review it in a about a week. I have been very inspired by it.
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