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The Ladder of Luck

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

There are many terms that we apply to them and many reasons that we conjure up for their failures. Mental health issues, laziness, crime, drugs are but a few. A common view is why don’t these folks simply follow our path to success or at least make proper use of programs to just ‘get fixed’? A while ago I had one foot in that camp.

Then one day in Kenya I realized that it was simply all about luck. For the lucky, 80% of our destiny is determined the moment we pop out into the world. Good genes, good health, a good house in a good neighborhood, the best schools, the best jobs. We marvel at our accomplishments.

But it is actually very hard to fail when you are born on the upper portion of this ladder of luck.

Before you can ‘start’ doing something you often have to ‘stop’ doing something else. So I stopped questioning why they need help. I stopped worrying about whether my contribution would be tax deductible. I stopped agonizing over what would be the biggest bang for my buck.

At our investment firm in Kingston we work with a lot of entrepreneurs. If you were in our office you would see an artistic table of pictures that pay tribute to the great entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Henry Ford, Muhamad Ali, Benjamin Franklin, Gandhi, and the Beatles are a few diverse examples. In the center of that table is a picture of a group of Congolese women at a training center that my wife Cathy started.

Born unlucky, but with a little help they became perhaps the biggest entrepreneurs of them all.

We don’t do our work as a favour. We don’t make a financial contribution because we feel sorry. It’s not that complicated. It’s because we have an obligation. We are just lucky and they are not. Today I hope you take a moment to turn around and look down that ladder behind you.

Maybe somebody there just needs a little luck.


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