Word-Of-the-Week #634: Fortunate

September 28, 2016 by  

Fortunate – having unexpected good fortune; lucky.

Do you consider yourself to be a lucky person? How many times have you had good things happen that were totally unexpected? How grateful are you of your good fortune?

In Monday’s San Diego UT, columnist “I’m there for you baby” Neil Senturia’s, Luck is a powerful factor in making people rich caught my attention. I am including excerpts.

“I won the ovarian lottery.” – Warren Buffett

What the Oracle of Omaha is saying is that he won the lottery when he was born white, healthy, smart and living in America.

Right before he exited the womb, there were 6.8 billion tickets, and he was lucky enough to pick that one. And Buffett is very public about his blessing. He says, “Gratitude is a key ingredient to personal happiness.”

But this column is not about inequality or privilege or education or race or gender – it is about luck. What role does luck play in making you rich?

For this, we turn to Ben Steverman at Bloomberg Business Week. He tells the story of Robert Frank who has a heart attack on the tennis court. He lives to tell the tale and play again because there was an accident three blocks away at that time, and two ambulances arrived, and only one was needed, so when the call came, the extra ambulance reached him in three minutes. The rest is history. No double fault.

Frank, who is a professor of economics at Cornell, says, “I am alive today because of pure dumb luck.” Not sure if it is coincidence or divine intervention, Frank has now begun to study the role of luck in the creation of wealth. His new book is “Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy.”

Frank boldly reminds us of a bit of political heresy. He points out that Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama were “pilloried” for suggesting that “the wealthy among us didn’t do it all themselves.” The Masters of the Universe howled.


Warren Buffett

Frank rightly points out the role of the individual, the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs – they were talented and hardworking. But they happened to arrive at the same time that a favorable macro environment arrived.

If you bought a house in 1990, you entered a favorable macro for 15 years. Same as buying stocks in April 2009; the Dow has almost tripled since then. Think about how you met your current wife (assuming you are happily married). Twenty minutes on either side, and you probably miss each other.

Not only where you were born, but when you were born make a difference. Kids born in the fall tend to be the oldest in their class. That has a relevance that gives these children a lifelong advantage over their peers.

Sadly this week, Arnold Palmer touted as the inventor of modern golf, died. And I read this in the LA Times, “Palmer’s first professional major victory, at the 1958 Masters, serendipitously intersected with the phenomenon of television. His chiseled looks and bold – some called it reckless – style of play made him a compelling lead actor in golf’s weekly playhouse theater.”

My mother told from the time I was a little girl that I was lucky and fortunate. I believed it and I am really lucky! I’m here to tell you everyone has the opportunity to be lucky. One big component is Karma! You can’t lie, steal, cheat, or do anything dishonest if you want to be fortunate. And in case you don’t know everybody is fortunate and rich if they get to live in the US!

This week is all about being fortunate. Do you consider yourself to be lucky? Have you ever been at the right place at the right time more than once? Was it planned or was it just a coincidence? How’s your karma bank? Are there more deposits than withdrawals? Think about that!

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