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Issue 136 - The Harder You Work the More Luck You Will Have

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 136
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

 

THE HARDER YOU WORK THE MORE LUCK YOU WILL HAVE

 
This favorite quote of Coach Wooden's has its roots in Thomas Jefferson's statement: I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
 
How does luck play a role in companies or people that have great success?
 
In the fantastic book Great By Choice, Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen researched seven companies who delivered a return on investment ten times greater than the industry average between 1973 and 2003. They refer to these companies as 10xers (10 times better). Below is a table from the book detailing their results:
 

Company

Dynastic Era of Study

Value of $10000 invested after 30 yr. period (1972 to 2002)

Results Compared to the Stock Market

Results Compared to Same Industry

Amgen (Biopharmaceutical company)

1980-2002

$4.5 million

24 X the market

77.2 X its industry

Biomet ( Medical Device Manufacturer)

1972-2002

$3.4 million

18.1 X the market

11.2 X its industry

Intel (Semiconductor Chip Maker)

1968-2002

$3.9 million

20.7 X the market

46.3 X its industry

Microsoft

1975-2002

$10.6 million

56 X  the market

118.8 X its industry

Progressive Insurance

1965-2002

$2.7 million

14.6 X the market

11.3 X its industry

Southwest Airlines

1967-2002

$12.0 million

63.4 X the market

550.4 X its industry

Stryker (Medical Devices and Equipment Manufacturing)

1977-2002

5.3 million

28 X the market

10.9 X its industry

 
The book also statistically compared the number of significant good luck events and bad luck events each company had during this period compared to their much less successful competition in the same industry.
 
The authors defined luck this way:
 
We defined a luck event as one that meets three tests: (1) some significant aspect of the event occurs largely or entirely independent of the actions of the key actors in the enterprise, (2) the event has a potentially significant consequence (good or bad), and (3) the event has some element of unpredictability.
 
The good luck and bad luck events came in a variety of types for all the companies ranging from a key hire to a bad court ruling to an unexpected swing in the general economy. The following table from the book details the results:
 

Matched Pairs (1st Company at least 10x more successful than 2nd company)

Number of Significant Good-Luck Events (highly successful 10x company)

Number of Significant Good-Luck Events (significantly less successful company)

Number of Significant Bad-Luck Events (highly successful 10x company)

Number of Significant Bad-Luck Events (significantly less successful company)

Amgen and Genentech

10

18

9

9

Biomet and Kirschner

4

4

7

4

Intel and AMD

7

8

14

11

Microsoft and Apple

15

14

9

7

Progressive and Safeco

3

1

8

10

Southwest and PSA

8

6

13

13

Stryker and USSC

2

5

5

6

Total

49

56

65

60

Averages

7.0

8.0

9.3

8.6

 
 
Both the successful and unsuccessful companies (at the time of this study Apple was struggling to stay in business prior to Steve Jobs return) had about the same amount of good luck and bad luck.
 
The successful companies were prepared through hard work, careful planning and attention to detail to take full advantage of good luck and not let bad luck put them out of business, and in some cases took the bad luck as a learning experience that turned it into good luck.
 
The less successful companies were not prepared to take full advantage of good luck and were devastated (going out of business in some cases) by the bad luck.
 
After 29 years of coaching, in 1964 Coach Wooden was very lucky to have three future terrific NBA players (Walt Hazzard,Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson) on his team.
 
He was also fully prepared to utilize their talent.
 
The combination led to his first national championship.
 
He kept working and continued to have more good luck.
 
As Coach liked to say: I will prepare and perhaps my chance will come.
 

Yours in Coaching,
 
 
Craig Impelman
 
 
Twitter: @woodenswisdom


 

 

 

Watch Video

Application Exercise

COACH'S
Favorite Poetry
AND PROSE

 

Columbus

 

Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: "Now we must pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?"
"Why, say, 'Sail on! sail on! and on!' "

"My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak."
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
"What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?"
"Why, you shall say at break of day,
'Sail on! sail on! and on!' "

They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanched mate said:
"Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.
These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dead seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Admiral, speak and say" --
He said, "Sail on! sail on! and on!"

They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate:
"This mad sea shows his teeth tonight.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?"
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
"Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!"

Then pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah, that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck --
A light! a light! at last a light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time's burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: "On! sail on!"


Joaquin Miller 

 

 

 

 

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