Roland Ligtenberg speaking

Hard Work, Recognition, and Luck

The harder I work, the luckier I get.

This quote has been around and restated many times by all types of different people. This version in particular can be attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, a famous American film producer (the “G” in MGM) – a prototypical “American Dream” immigrant. It’s a derivative of Thomas Jefferson’s quote:

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

The underlying learnings beneath this idea of generating your own luck through diligence and hard work is often mistaken as the path to automatic success in relation to the exact product of that labor.

For example, a developer could be coding on a side-project after his/her normal day job, putting in many hours of hard work at a high opportunity cost. The next logical thought follows that all this hard work s/he has put in will result in achieving some “luck” or success in relation directly to the project (i.e. it takes off, get users, generates revenue etc). This is not necessarily, or often, the case.

This is where recognition comes in to play. As a result of hard work, many positive externalities are generated unrelated to the project itself:

  • a well-known industry peer notices his/her work on GitHub and they go on to collaborate on an even more respected project,
  • the process of keeping productivity high while juggling work and a side-project helps him/her achieve even higher output during normal hours resulting in a promotion,
  • work colleagues notice increased technical skill/knowledge-set and through mutual respect s/he greatly increases his/her network to reach out to for help & advice in the future,
  • or through self-recognition, simply the increase in happiness derived from autonomous and fulfilling work.

All these can be labeled as “luck” or “lucky”, which effects and drives success – whether it’s directly, tangentially, or completely unrelated to the originating source.

Realize that everything you do and work hard at, although perhaps not immediately or from a source you expect, will be recognized – in turn increasing your luck and thereby your success (however you personally define it).

Many people have embraced this and make their success look natural and effortless.


Now go do the same.


Hard Work – Recognition – Luck – Success – Repeat


Let me know what you think here: @rolandal