The powerful and (often) invisible reason why people with little talent succeed in life

The powerful and (often) invisible reason why people with little talent succeed in life


We are often reluctant to attribute our good fortune to luck alone. We prefer to believe that our material gains or positive results are due to our brilliant intelligence, ability, abilities or hard work.

But if success is directly correlated with our ability, why do there seem to be so many rich people with mediocre talents? And why are not the most intelligent in the world also the wealthiest?

A new study by Italian researchers, physicists Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Rapisarda and economist Alessio Biondo, used a computer simulation of success, defined by financial wealth, to show that the most successful people in the world are not necessarily the most talented.

They are the ones with the most luck.

The good happens to the mediocre

The researchers created an imaginary world, populated with 1,000 individuals with various levels of talent in random positions who were exposed to good and bad luck in random events.

Each person started with the same amount (10 units) of capital. If level of talent (characteristics such as intelligence, skill or effort) influenced the likelihood that they could change a fortunate opportunity into more capital.

After a simulation of 40 years, which represented the career of a person, the distribution of wealth looked horribly similar to that of the real world, with a small percentage of people owning much of the capital.

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption The study analyzed whether a person’s level of talent influences the likelihood that they can turn a lucky opportunity into more capital.

“Were the most successful also the most talented? That is what we would have expected … if we assume that we reward the most successful people because they are more talented or smart than other people,” says Pluchino.

” But we discovered that this was not the case, often the most successful people are moderately talented but very lucky.”

“We discovered a strict correlation between luck and success, finding a series of successful events was responsible for incredible successes even if that individual’s talent was less than that of the super talented people.”

“This is what we often see around us in the real world, there are many examples of people that we do not consider particularly intelligent but somehow reach a high level of wealth and success.”

Of course, they need a certain level of talent to be able to exploit those lucky opportunities, the researchers say. And this “talent” can be anything from the ability to work hard to intelligence .

But talent alone is not enough. In the simulation, the people who had the highest level of talent only formed a small portion of the successful ones.

Share the wealth

These results could have implications for the way in which opportunities are distributed by policy makers and funding agencies.

And this could mean that the most talented people, the people who are most likely to advance innovations, have a better chance of being noticed.

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption “Often the most successful people are moderately talented but very lucky.”

The team found several alternatives that could change the way we currently reward people who are already successful.

For example, instead of giving bonuses to the best sellers, one strategy could be to give small amounts of money to all , which was more effective than the meritocracy system in the simulation.

Even granting money randomly to 25% of people (regardless of their past performance) led to a higher percentage of talented people who achieved successes in the computer model, than rewarding the most successful people since, as we know, the success was almost entirely due to luck.

But past performance is no guarantee of future performance , warns Biondo.

“If you value merit exclusively on the basis of past results, once you realize that your past results can be generated not only by your talent, but also due to lucky events, then you will be rewarding good luck and not merit” .

This has interesting implications for society as a whole and could create more opportunities for all.

“It means improving education, health, all this is part of the project,” says Rapisarda.

“By exposing people, especially at a young age, to more fortunate events, you will offer more opportunities for the talents hidden in society to emerge .”

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption There are many examples of people who do not consider themselves particularly intelligent but somehow reach a high level of wealth and success, the researchers say.

The rich have become richer

In addition to informing the policy at the macroeconomic level, there are individual benefits in understanding the role of luck in our fortunes, for example being born in a developed country or in a wealthy family.

We tend to pay special attention to the factors in our lives that we feel prevent us from succeeding and to forget the factors that help us.

A study in 2016 rated our tendency to ignore the luck in the asymmetry of the wind in favor / wind against: we remember when we overcome barriers (work with the wind against), but we often forget the advantages that we obtain having reached a objective (with the wind in favor).

Luck also makes us more generous. Another study, by the author of ” Success and Luck,” Robert Frank, showed that when people realize they were lucky or lucky, they are more likely to give money to charities.

In the study, three groups were asked to remember a positive event. One group had to list the personal characteristics that had caused the event, another was asked to list the external causes and the third group, control should only remember the positive experience.

Everyone was given a monetary bonus and the opportunity to donate it. Participants who listed external causes donated 25% more to charitable organizations.

“It’s hard to get people to think about external forces and events,” Frank says. “But we found that if you motivated them to think about it – asking them to remember a time when they were fortunate, instead of telling them they were lucky – people become more generous and more willing to contribute to the common good .”

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Italian researchers believe that there are things we can do to increase our luck.

By definition, fortunate events – the place where you are born, the family in which you are born, who you know – are almost always out of your control and are due to random chance.

But even Italian researchers believe that there are things we can do to increase our luck.

“Expose to all the casual interactions and opportunities that are possible for you,” says Pluchino. “It’s also true that even if you expose yourself, you’ll still need luck.”

“But most likely you will not find lucky opportunities if you stay locked in your room.”

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.


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