Does luck play a role in success

Lucky: You have to earn luck

In addition, there is something that psychologists call the fundamental attribution error. “Understanding external influences and assessing their contribution is often very difficult,” says Rosing. “That is why we tend to interpret everything as the work of people.” This can be seen well in companies in which there is often a downright leadership cult: the founder or CEO is considered a great hero who virtually single-handedly leads the company Success leads. "In the end, however, this is just a story, a myth that we construct for ourselves in order to reduce complexity and get a simple explanation," says Kathrin Rosing.

The fact that we have a problem with chance and the happy incident has not only to do with neurobiology. This is what the physicist, philosopher and science author Stefan Klein says, whose book “Alles Zufall” was published in a new edition last year. “Social norms and worldviews also play an important role,” he says. “It's almost like an ideology: We want performance to be worthwhile and we want our lives to be in our own hands under all circumstances.” Anyone who recognizes the role of chance must at the same time accept that success cannot be fully planned.

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Nevertheless, Klein pleads for having this courage. “We would all do well to be more realistic about the role of chance,” he says. “That doesn't mean becoming a pessimist and falling into shock, on the contrary: We then reflect on one of our greatest strengths, the quick reaction to unexpected events. Those who accept that not everything can be planned remain more flexible and open to random possibilities and new opportunities. "

Solution to inequality

The economist Robert Frank even believes that accepting chance can make the world a fairer place. The fact that income and wealth inequality has risen so sharply in many countries also has something to do with the fact that many rich people vehemently oppose high top taxes and redistribution. The idea behind this is that anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.

A poll by pollsters at Pew Research confirms this: Those who earn more believe that success is the reward of hard work and has little to do with happiness. When asked how to get rich, respondents in the survey, who themselves belong to the upper income bracket, answered “work hard” more often than others.

Studies by psychologist David DeSteno from Northeastern University show how quickly such ideas can change. And then when someone realizes that he was lucky in life too. In several experiments, DeSteno was able to show that people become more helpful when something good happens to them by chance shortly beforehand - and not only towards people who have helped you directly, but also towards complete strangers.

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And a study published in 2009 by researchers led by psychologist Alex Wood from the University of Stirling shows that it is good for you to be aware of the happy circumstances in your life: According to the study, people who do this regularly are more self-confident and more stable Friendships and partnerships and deal better with crises.

Realizing how lucky you are in life can even act like a pain reliever. The psychologists Mathias Allemand (University of Zurich), Patrick Hill (Carleton University, Ottawa) and Brent Roberts (University of Illinois) have shown that people who are grateful to others or the conditions in which they live are less likely to experience pain . For their study, published in 2014, the psychologists sent detailed questionnaires to around 1,000 men and women in Switzerland. Among other things, they had to indicate how often they were unable to work normally due to problems such as back pain. In another part of the questionnaire, the participants' gratitude was measured using a standard psychological test. Those who scored particularly high on the gratitude scale reported pain less often.

Know where your own limits are

So reasons enough to openly and honestly admit that you wouldn't be where you are if it hadn't been for that one chance meeting over dinner. This honesty is especially important for managers, says business psychologist Kathrin Rosing. “In between, you should always be clear about your own limits, what things you cannot influence and how important other people’s contributions are to the company's success,” she says - and recommends doing this humility exercise as a ritual in his own To build in everyday life. "Otherwise you quickly fall victim to the simple explanations and your own hero status."

After all, the power of chance does not mean that you can no longer influence anything. Often you have to earn your luck first. Nobody ever got to the point like Gary Player: "The harder I train," said the former South African professional golfer, "the more lucky I am."

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