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View Poll Results: How much of your current or future ability to FIRE is/will be due to luck?
All of it. (I won the lottery, was born rich, found a suitcase full of cash by the side of the road, etc.) 4 2.90%
None of it. (I worked hard, practiced LBYM, darned my socks, counted my dryer sheets, and finally made it.) 43 31.16%
Some of both. (I was working at it, but a lucky break pushed me the rest of the way.) 46 33.33%
You make your own luck. (I got lucky, but it was only useful because I had already spent years accumulating knowledge and assets that let me take advantage of it.) 45 32.61%
Voters: 138. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-01-2011, 10:55 AM   #41
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Usually, luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

There are exceptions, of course, but most people who are commonly "lucky" probably exemplify the statement above. Having said that,it feels like the ability to FIRE increasingly depends on having picked the right occupation and perhaps the right type of employer as well as your own financial discipline.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:15 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
Usually, luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

There are exceptions, of course, but most people who are commonly "lucky" probably exemplify the statement above. Having said that,it feels like the ability to FIRE increasingly depends on having picked the right occupation and perhaps the right type of employer as well as your own financial discipline.
Not only the right occupation and employer, but also the right spouse, the right location, and so many other factors. In fact, I think you could generalize and say that the ability to FIRE depends on all of one's choices in life as well as on one's financial discipline.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:48 AM   #43
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Old 03-01-2011, 03:06 PM   #44
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Not many are expressing thanks for their nature. I think that this board is filled with lots of people who by nature are smart and highly disciplined. Lucky folks all! Character (and circumstance) is destiny.
Perhaps forum members are like the children of Lake Wobegon - all above average.

I think the results of the poll fit right in with American cultural mythology about prosperity and individualism. It is self-satisfying to associate individual choice and personal responsibility with positive outcomes. There is no doubt that these things are related but it does disregard all those who work hard and choose well but still have less beneficial outcomes. It also is self-rewarding in that it attributes poor outcomes also to choice (poor) and effort (inadequate) and therefore relieves the social and moral obligation to contribute and help the less fortunate.
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:12 PM   #45
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I am where I am because I'm awesome!

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I knew that was you, HFWR!

Too funny...
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:49 PM   #46
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I voted option #4.

Born to intelligent, hardworking and frugal parents: luck!
Took advantage of parents' desire and willingness to fund education: savvy!
Chose well paying career track: luck!
Realized need to plan long term future: savvy!
Went to great lengths to develop successful career: effort!
Kept abreast of world events: savvy!
Bought modest home in great location: savvy!
Paid off mortgage in 18 months: savvy!
LBYM x 20 years: savvy!
Realized in 1991 that Japanese economy had peaked: savvy!
Education in finance: effort!
Inheritance in 2005: luck!
Sold inherited property in Ireland close to peak of overheated market: savvy!
Invested proceeds of inheritance in carefully evaluated sound financial institutions: savvy!
Did not flinch during 2008-2009 market meltdown: savvy!

I could go on. Next hope: sell modest home in great location in seller's market. Luck!
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:49 PM   #47
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. It also is self-rewarding in that it attributes poor outcomes also to choice and effort and therefore relieves the social and moral obligation to contribute and help the less fortunate.

So, do you feel that we have a "social and moral obligation" to financially penalize those who made good choices and put forth the effort required for a good outcome to subsidize those who didn't? It's like the fable about the ant and the grasshopper, and you always appear to be wringing your hands over the plight of the grasshoppers... please tell me I'm wrong.

(I'm not referring to those who are physically or mentally disabled, I truly believe they need and deserve our help; but these folks aren't part of the social engineering iceberg, IMO.)
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:55 PM   #48
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So, do you feel that we have a "social and moral obligation" to financially penalize those who made good choices and put forth the effort required for a good outcome to subsidize those who didn't? It's like the fable about the ant and the grasshopper, and you always appear to be wringing your hands over the plight of the grasshoppers... please tell me I'm wrong.
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. This social and moral obligation you write about was tried before. Maybe it wasn't done at the 'height' of capitalism, so once we become more evolved it will work next time.
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:09 PM   #49
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So, do you feel that we have a "social and moral obligation" to financially penalize those who made good choices and put forth the effort required for a good outcome to subsidize those who didn't?
So, do you feel that the joy of hoarding yet another unneeded penny to the stash exceeds the joy of sharing the penny with someone who truly has needs?
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:15 PM   #50
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From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
I don't think the guy who said that would approve of any of our ill-gotten gains!

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Old 03-01-2011, 06:40 PM   #51
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... Character (and circumstance) is destiny.....
I have also heard the saying that energy is destiny, which I interpret as having the perseverance to follow through on ideas, opportunity, etc., and also is a facet of character.
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Old 03-01-2011, 08:06 PM   #52
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When I was attending a party for my first boss out of college on the occasion of his 70th birthday, I noted that I owed him a lot, because he took a huge chance in hiring me 25 years prior (as an American in Japan, with a basic knowledge of The Japanese language, but no understanding of business Japanese at all). I noted that I had been very lucky in my career. He flipped that around and told me that I had made my own luck, and that even though opportunities had come my way, I had prepared myself to take advantage of them.

Looking at some of the previous posts, I note and agree that yes, I did have the luck to be born in a LBYM family, to be taught to save, to work hard, I did have the luck to be born in a wealthy democracy, to be educated, etc. However, I note that there are many people who have been dealt that very same hand, but who have not for whatever reason been able to turn that into something positive.

So my take on it is that yes, I was blessed with a certain amount of luck over the years. I think it would be fair to say that I have taken that luck and turned it into even greater opportunities to take advantage of the next sets of "luck" that came around.

I guess that's my story, and I'll stick with it.

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Old 03-01-2011, 08:17 PM   #53
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So, do you feel that the joy of hoarding yet another unneeded penny to the stash exceeds the joy of sharing the penny with someone who truly has needs?
Read on:

Quote:
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(I'm not referring to those who are physically or mentally disabled, I truly believe they need and deserve our help; but these folks aren't part of the social engineering iceberg, IMO.)
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Old 03-01-2011, 08:56 PM   #54
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Lots of luck.
Born white in USA; public school; state college; state scholarship; federal loan.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:06 PM   #55
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It is self-satisfying to associate individual choice and personal responsibility with positive outcomes.
Damn straight it is satisfying! Why the heck would anyone bother with making tough choices and taking personal responsibility if there wasn't some satisfaction in it? I'm not a martyr, I do things (in some sort of balance) for the eventual reward. If other people make 'live for today and the heck with tomorrow' choices and shirk personal responsibility, then why should their future well being be my concern? It wasn't their concern, and they didn't share with me when they were playing and I was off working. Now they want me to help after I worked? Hey, they had their fun, it's my turn now. Heck, maybe they made the right choice and I'm the dummy, but I'm not asking for a 'do-over'.


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There is no doubt that these things are related but it does disregard all those who work hard and choose well but still have less beneficial outcomes.
I disagree completely - it isn't either/or. Why can't I say that some of my success is due to working hard and being prepared and having the guts to take advantage of opportunities, while still acknowledging that some people might work harder than me, be smarter, and still get hit with some bad luck that sets them back? I've seen it, and I acknowledge it. What's your point?


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... relieves the social and moral obligation to contribute and help the less fortunate.
What the heck are you talking about? Are you saying that successful people don't donate to charities, volunteer, etc? Look around. Open your eyes.

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Old 03-01-2011, 09:19 PM   #56
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Not many are expressing thanks for their nature. I think that this board is filled with lots of people who by nature are smart and highly disciplined. Lucky folks all! Character (and circumstance) is destiny. I can't answer the poll because the choices don't fit with how I think how I and other people end up where they are.
It would be interesting to start a thread on this subject. You have mentioned it from time to time, and it is clear that it is the center of why we see things from a different angle. I understand what you say to a point (I think), but you seem to state it in such extreme terms that it seems to totally negate any personal responsibility for anything. It's as if we shouldn't reward anyone for doing anything exceptional, and we shouldn't punish anyone for doing anything reprehensible - it was just their destiny.

Jonas Salk and Bernie Madoff were both just following their destiny? There is no room for personal choice in any of this? We should just shrug if we were to meet each of them, and say "whatever"?

Sure, we all have some innate abilities and some innate challenges. But we can let those rule us or we can try to overcome them. You don't believe that?

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Old 03-01-2011, 09:46 PM   #57
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Our lives, what we achieve and not, are governed by factors we control and circumstance we do not. To portray the positive outcome as the consequence only of factors we control is false because it disregards both circumstance and the effect others have on us, our choices and their outcomes.

The simple fact that our labor is highly valued and we are able to enjoy the fruits of this labor depends substantially on contributions made by others past and present. To deny this is to deny the value of our social structure, which is the great enabler in our individual lives.

Do not misrepresent my thoughts. I clearly acknowledge the importance of individual effort and choice (beginning with my own), even though I do not know how to weigh their contribution. Those that believe their individual effort and choice are all that matters should go live alone in a jungle, or on a desert island, for a couple of years and see just how much individual effort matters. It may keep you alive where others might not survive, but prosperity is the result of the collective effort and continued investment of many across multiple generations. It is incumbent on us to enable others in like fashion.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:51 PM   #58
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It is incumbent on us to enable others in like fashion.
So, where are you sending your enablement checks?
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:21 PM   #59
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Bold mine:

Quote:
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Our lives, what we achieve and not, are governed by factors we control and circumstance we do not. To portray the positive outcome as the consequence only of factors we control is false because it disregards both circumstance and the effect others have on us, our choices and their outcomes.

The simple fact that our labor is highly valued and we are able to enjoy the fruits of this labor depends substantially on contributions made by others past and present. To deny this is to deny the value of our social structure, which is the great enabler in our individual lives.

Do not misrepresent my thoughts. I clearly acknowledge the importance of individual effort and choice (beginning with my own), even though I do not know how to weigh their contribution. Those that believe their individual effort and choice are all that matters should go live alone in a jungle, or on a desert island, for a couple of years and see just how much individual effort matters. It may keep you alive where others might not survive, but prosperity is the result of the collective effort and continued investment of many across multiple generations. It is incumbent on us to enable others in like fashion.
The phrases I bolded are what confuses me. Seems like only a very small minority are saying luck wasn't an issue (or maybe it is their phrasing) - are you addressing those few (2 or 3?)?

Even the poll itself, at one extreme, acknowledges that luck plays a part:

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You make your own luck. (I got lucky, but it was only useful because I had already spent years accumulating knowledge and assets that let me take advantage of it.)
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:54 PM   #60
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What I admire about the folks who minimize the role of luck or fortune in their lives is that they accept personal responsibility for outcomes even when those outcomes are negative and seem to be events that were not in their control. No whining. Just acceptance of unplanned negative events as their own personal responsibility.
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