Thursday, April 21, 2005

Luck and the universe


Sorry for not blogging for a thousand years. I guess I slipped out of the habit. I hope I'm not taken off too many trackers.

Anyway... I've recently read Good To Great. Fantasticular book. Read it. Briefly, it's a scientific study (or rather, summary of a study) that has studied correlations between companies that has beaten the average market by over 300% for over fifteen years straight. It's really, really good stuff. This blog entry is for people that has read the book, but some of you who hasn't might like it anyway. But seriously, read the book. Awesome.

One of the most "annoying" things in the book is the study of the CEOs. The CEOs of Good-To-Great companies are frickin' weird. The are very similar to each other, but very different from the most popular image of successful CEOs. When reading the interviews of the CEOs, one thing stuck in my mind really hard...

The CEOs of the Good-To-Great companies were asked “what was the most important factor that contributed to the success of their company?”. A stunningly large part of the CEO's answered... wait for it... luck!

When I read that, I had to get up and walk around a bit to calm down. Seriously. These CEOs all (almost) had taken their companies out of a slump, and kept it going for 300-700% the average market performance for 15 years. That is simply not a coincidence. "These CEOs are talking crap!", I thought.

The book attributes this "luck" phenomena to the fact that these CEOs simply have no egos in the normal sense of the word (this is more intricately described in the book, and I won't go into it in this blog) - they simply take responsibility when bad stuff happen, and when good stuff happens, they project that on others or circumstance. Quite the opposite of how most people react to success or failure, come to think of it.

The above is a plausible explanation, and I accepted it, as I hate the idea of a company being enormously successful for 15 years straight by coincidence. But, when shaving a few days later, a really disturbing notion struck me… what if it really was luck? What if these companies just had opportunity upon opportunity thrown at them? What if good things(TM) simply happened to these companies on a more regular basis than other companies?

That’s kind of a disturbing thought, because I’m kind of experiencing it in a project right now. The details are kind of secret, but suffice to say that it started out as a zero-budget project, and demands lots of people (well, lots of people for me – it’s like 10) involved. The project was (and still is) a bit of an excuse for me to collect some of the most reliable, creative, energetic and entrepreneurial people I’ve met under one “roof”. The way the project is working is just amazing. I mean, the people are productive and all, and their work is always spectacular, but that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is how much luck we have.

We have received a huge amount of money (way more than we ever anticipated) from the county to do the project. Much of the stuff we’re building has been given to us for free (several thousand dollars worth of stuff) - very, very little actually needed to be purchased. And now we’re getting a ridiculously good deal on SMS payment services. I mean, I’m used to good stuff happening out of thin air, but this is simply a little weird. It gets us all worried sick, and we have been waiting for a disaster to happen to balance our luck out, but the luck just keeps happening.

I’m almost as if the universe WANTS this project to succeed. If anyone of you has read “Think and grow rich” you’ll recognize the above. I don’t recall what he named it, but it’s the “Powered Mind” or something corny like that. Basically, it kicks into gear when strong individuals subconsciously ask for challenges. I.e. if you really, really want to do something, and is strong enough to do it (and you believe you are), the universe will allow you to do it, and throw challenges your way. It’s almost like some council sits on a cloud somewhere and say “Well, this shit here needs to be taken care of – who can do it? That dude over there seems to think he can do it – hit him with it.”. I’m not a religious man, and I think most of the stuff in the bible is hooobamajoog, but one thing it really has nailed down it “Ask, and ye shall receive.”, which is what I’m getting at here.

What I’ve realized with this project is that this also works in groups. The effect is not at all limited to individuals, but it in fact enormously much stronger when a group of people all have the same objective.

Well, sorry for the new-agey post. I hope you know what I’m talking about. If not, keep your eyes peeled for luck that is too frequent to be a coincidence, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.