Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1534 Posts and Counting

Skill v. Luck

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 13, 2018

No. 1,491

Last night the Pirates won in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off hit batsman.  The bases were loaded.  Tony Watson, who now pitches for the Giants, hit the batter, Jordy Mercer, forcing in the winning run.

Was it luck?

Well, from the Giants’ perspective, it was a lack of skill, not bad luck.  If Watson had better control, he might have been able to pitch inside without hitting Mercer.  But from the Pirates’ perspective it was luck, good luck.  Yes, getting hit with a 90+ mph hard object can be good luck if it contributes to winning the game. Then again, loading the bases, setting up the situation, required multiple acts, nome perhaps skillful, some perhaps lucky.  Some might have involved both.

Of course, we rarely acknowledge that our team won because of a stroke of good luck.  But we are quick to recognize that we lost due to bad luck.  Yes, bad luck rarely goes unnoticed. Good luck, on the other hand, rarely gets the credit for a victory.

Expect luck of both kinds. Never let the bad variety destroy your optimistic outlook.  There  might be a lucky break right behind it. You’ll miss it if your mind is occupied with misfortune.

Here’s a prior post from this blog on the subject of good luck/bad luck that’s worth repeating in full.  What would you have done in the situation depicted in this story?  Would you do something else after reading it?  I would.  I hope you agree.

*********************************************************************************

No. 1,323

Image: superstitions online.com

Image: superstitions online.com

While it is easy to complain about bad luck when our team loses, not too many of us attribute victory to luck. But the truth is, both bad and good luck have a role and probably a bigger one than we are willing to admit.

The key is not to let bad luck discourage you, even when that is the logical reaction.  The good luck may be coming right behind it.  Plus, what seems like bad luck when it hits, may turn out to be the opposite. Recognize it and seize it — with both hands.  Then hold on like crazy.

I have just started to listen to a fascinating book by Eric Barker called Barking Up the Wrong Tree.  It debunks many of the old saws about success, such as Nice Guys Finish Last.  In chapter 2, in a discussion of perseverance, he tells the gripping story of a mountain climber who fell while descending the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere with one other climber.  His name was Joe. He broke a leg and was experiencing extreme pain. To make matters worse, while trying to crawl to safety he fell again and landed on an ice bridge crossing a giant gorge.

As bad as the situation was, the second fall involved an element of good luck. If Joe had fallen a few feet to either side, he would have disappeared into a black abyss.  Who could know how deep it was? And he landed on a blanket of snow.

But he soon discovered that the rope he was tethered to was going slack.  His climbing partner had assumed that the Joe had fallen to his  death in the deep crevasse.  A logical conclusion; but now he had no way to pull himself up. He had only two choices — stay put or let himself down on the rope into the crevasse. Bad luck.

Staying where he was meant certain death.  So he secured the rope to something solid, tied the end around his waist, and began to lower himself into the darkness.

Suddenly, an element of good luck appeared.  He found a ramp along the side of the gorge that led upward to the opening. Crawling up it with a broken leg would be very hard.  But it would not be impossible.

Out of the gorge, he started to make slow progress traveling the long distance to base camp.  He didn’t know whether it would even be there if he ever  arrived. He set himself a long series of small goals.  Day turned to night. After what must have seemed to be an eternity, he drifted into a deep sleep. When he started to awaken, smelled the strong odor of excrement.  Good luck again.  He had wandered into the latrine area of base camp.  Before long, Joe saw a light.  Against incredible odds, he was saved.

The lesson is this.  If your attitude is that everything is going wrong, you’ll be so preoccupied with your bad luck that you will miss opportunities that pass right in front of you.

Instead, tell yourself you’ve been lucky all your life (probably true, whether you admit it or not ). Then pay careful attention.

CLT

| Comments Off on Skill v. Luck

Comments

Welcome

CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 40 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

  • Posts You Might Like

  • Subscribe to our feed

    Search

    Admin