What Really Powers Success?

How often have you looked at a successful singer, artist, businessperson, or athlete and thought, “They’re just so lucky”? In a society that credits serendipity for success, the common saying, “You’re lucky to do what you love,” perpetuates the myth that achievements arise from chance. Yet, success is rarely a gift of fortune.

It’s not luck that propels people to the top of their game. Success isn’t a product of luck but mostly unwavering hard work, sacrifice, and the strength to weather storms.

When you look at a tall, solid tree, do you ever say, “You are so lucky?” Probably not. Everyone understands that large trunks must have sprawling, deep, and strong roots. Its towering presence is not a matter of luck but years of silent growth. The roots provide the anchors for the tree to stand strong against the fiercest winds. A strong foundation is necessary for sustained success.

Luck Favors the Hard Workers

Don’t get me wrong, being lucky won’t hurt. But luck isn’t a plan. What I consider lucky is having the foundation laid out for you – talent, a supportive environment, and resources to start, are forms of luck, but what one does with “luck” requires a plan. No champion has become “the best” without overshadowing the relentless effort and strategic planning behind it.

When people say you’re ‘lucky’ to make a living from what you love, they’re not seeing the hard work it really takes. They don’t think about the sleepless nights, the chances you took, or the things in life you had to give up because you were chasing your dream. This wrong idea makes light of all the effort, focusing only on the success and not the tough journey you went through to achieve it.

Many times, when my kids ask me to play with them, they say: “You are the boss, you can do whatever you want, so you don’t have to work now! Come play with me!.” To that, I always respond: “I am the boss, which means I have to work harder and smarter than everyone else. I have to lead by example. Being a boss isn’t a ticket to a free schedule and freedom from any obligations, it’s the other way around.”

There’s No Glamour “Behind the Scenes”

If you have ever taken part in a movie production, you know how different it looks on set and after editing. What people see — the success or the great performance — is just a small part of the whole story. Behind the scenes, there’s a ton of hard work that nobody sees. There are endless hours of practice, lots of planning, and many sacrifices. Every big win or round of applause comes from lots of effort and time that you often don’t get to see.

Real success comes from never giving up, facing tough times with resilience, and working hard even when no one is watching. It shows us that the true heroes are those who keep going, making their dreams come true with lots of hard work and dedication.

A dear student of mine, who is about to test for his Black Belt (Expert 1) in a couple of weeks, is an amazing example of it: He shows up hours before class, usually with a list of questions about techniques he wishes to understand better. He asks, and I answer, and he goes to practice the moves on his own. Sometimes for hours. Do you see luck in this equation? This special student is always the most humble person in the room, but not because he can’t brag about his astonishing achievements.

Growth Without a Sacrifice Is Merely Luck

The odds of winning the lottery in the USA stand near 1 in approximately 300 million. It is a possibility but not a realistic plan. The lottery does change people, but sometimes for the worse. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70% of lottery winners go bankrupt within a few years.

When you get the prize without embracing a change of mindset, you didn’t grow, you only won. I have a friend who became a supermodel at the age of 16. His abs got international recognition, and his bank account was happy about it, but he didn’t know how life worked without this constant stream of attention and wealth. When things changed for him, he was completely lost.

Remember “Big”? That 1988 flick with Tom Hanks playing the lead? It’s about a young kid, Josh Baskin, who makes a wish to be ‘big’ at a carnival, and boom … the next day, he’s in an adult body. This movie really nails what it’s like to look at grown-up life through a kid’s eyes. It digs into how innocence bumps up against the tough stuff, it’s about growing up and how being an adult isn’t always as cool as it looks when you’re a kid. “Big” shows that being big doesn’t equate to being wise. Wisdom comes with time, experience, and building resilience.

Back to the mat – wearing a black belt comes with training. It comes with experience, it is not just a badge of honor, it is a sign of maturity, hard work, and commitment to self! Some might get there faster than others, thanks to their talent, but those who aren’t as naturally talented will eventually build the necessary skills to meet the requirements.

Talent is luck, the rest are choices. Skill, on the other hand, isn’t associated with luck but with habits.

Do something amazing,

Tsahi Shemesh
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts

1 comment

  1. I love the humility and honesty in this post. Have you ever heard of manny pacquiao? The reason i mention him is he is a national hero where im from. It’s not simply because he is now one of the most successful athletes locally but also internationally. Also, he came from nothing. Where I’m from, when you say you’re poor that translates to dirt poor. There is no welfare, no unemployment insurance. If you’re uneducated all the more you’re totally down on your luck and there is very little chance you’ll ever succeed in life. What makes manny unique is he didn’t let his circumstances dictate what his future will be. Quite the opposite in fact. He worked hard and reminded himself of the repercussions of not doing everything to succeed in his chosen profession. If there was any luck in this world it was totally elusive to someone like him. He was poor, uneducated and he short and even malnourished. What made him he who he is his absolute dedication to his craft,His trust in his God and his love for his family especially his mother who literally had to handwash clothes for a living (no washing machine just manual). He didn’t rely on luck . He persevered, he won, lost some fights but still he cemented a career and finally a name respected around the world. When I think of luck I think of hard work + opportunity. Also when I think of luck I think of being caught in a sticky dangerous situation and having the opportunity to defends one’s self because of preparation. Luck isn’t mere chance, it’s also a choice , esp when you have primed the path towards that direction. Thank you for this very enlightening post

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