Lewis, luck and success
Michael Lewis, author and financial heretic, counsels the successful not to feel smug.
Michael Lewis is one of my favourite authors. It's not just that he writes well about interesting subjects, although he does do that. Heck, he even got me wanting to read a book about one of the most boring topics known to humanity – baseball. Lewis' appeal is his irreverence, typically targeted at the mighty finance industry but well directed in all his writings.
Reading all things Lewis recently bought me to a speech he gave at Princeton University last year. In it, he argues that the role of luck in success is too often (and conveniently) forgotten. For the successful, this is heretical; for the rest, it is a comfort.
Lewis' conclusion from this idea is powerful: where there is success, there has been luck. The lucky, therefore, owe a debt to the unlucky. It's a plucky argument that is easy to dismiss until you hear Lewis cookie parable (you now have to watch the video).
The cookie parable is one of the great insights in business. Although luck plays a large role in success, it does nothing to diminish the entitlement felt by elites.
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