Friday, July 31, 2009

Productivity Bit: The Randomness of Success and Failure

While I might not entirely agree with some of the specifics, I enjoyed the talk by philosopher Alain de Botton at TED:

His basic argument is this: we think we have far too much control of our lives and therefore as individuals we take too much credit and blame for our successes and failures. Essentially, we understate the level of randomness involved. De Botton argues that while we should strive to be increasingly egalitarian and meritocratic, ultimately luck makes the actualization of such a society impossible.

Markets reward merit - value created in society is reflected in wealth and profits - so in that sense, I would argue that the harsh reality is your income/profits is a reflection of your relative worth to society. But need de Botton's view be in conflict? De Botton also notes that we need to seek definitions of success not from others but from within and I think the happy medium is to define success in terms of valiant pursuit than an end destination - which, in essence, was the point of another TED talk.

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