Over the last several months, I’ve been on a good run.
It started with being asked to give the commencement address at my alma mater.
Then on Friday, I published my first piece for Esquire. I’ve always wanted to write for them and this specific topic, “Dads without Dads” is an especially personal reflection timed for Father’s Day.
There is an NPR special report I’m working on examining inequality in education on Long Island that will air at the end of the month.
And finally, after four years, my children’s book, Three Little Engines, will be published on July 13th and there are some very exciting things in the works for that launch.
So where is this good run coming from?
Is it a payoff after years of hard work?
Is it the result of good connections?
Is it just good fortune or timing?
To disentangle skill from chance is impossible. There is no formula that can predict success or explain it.
The reality is that all of those accomplishments, if you want to call them that, benefited from a personal connection, good timing and yes, some initiative. If you removed any, the accomplishment would disappear.
Yet in a research survey conducted several years ago, most Americans found luck and knowing other successful people as the least important factors for success (only 30% saying each was essential for achieving their dreams). Conversely, 90% of Americans thought that hard work was essential.
On the most recent episode of my podcast, I talked with journalist turned professional poker player Maria Konnikova about his very topic. She has a PhD in psychology and her own remarkable journey of skill and chance is captured in her book, The Biggest Bluff.
Ironically it was a New Yorker article she wrote called America’s Surprising Views on Income Inequality that provided the inspiration for my children’s book. If she doesn’t write that article, if someone doesn’t share it with me – then no children’s book, no commencement speech, no Esquire article and no podcast episode.
In it she profiled the work of Shai Davidai, who himself has an interesting take on “good runs.” Of all the metaphors in describing how we attain success, he prefers the notion of a “relay race” where we are constantly passing on the baton to one another and from generation to generation.
It speaks to how our fortunes are inherently tied to one another.
So yeah, I’m enjoying the run I’m on but I’m also looking forward to passing the baton to someone else who could use a break. If I can be of help, let me know. And if you’ve been on a good run, good for you. Maybe you could look to pass the baton, too.