Ambition Requires Delusion

“Psychologists say that the illusion of control can be adaptive, in the sense that it encourages a focus on problem-solving behaviors as opposed to emotional response.” — Bob Henderson, a former derivatives trader who lost and made back hundreds of millions of dollars during the 2008 financial crisis.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

I think that I can control my life to a much greater degree than I probably can. Logically, I realize that most events are beyond my influence, but I’ve made the choice to ignore that. Why focus on it, right? Better to act like I can change things, because occasionally I can. For example, I pitch editors despite knowing that their inboxes are deluged by emails from people more qualified than me. Once in a while I make it through.

Here’s the equation for success: talent + hard work + perseverance + luck, usually in that order. Domain-related skill is not always a prerequisite, but you’ve got to be good at something, even if it’s just networking, in order to get ahead. Besides that, you have to create conditions for luck. It boils down to this: keep hustling, and stay ready to take any desirable opportunities that arise. In my experienced — admittedly limited, but still — this is a very effective strategy.

Sonya Mann (that’s me) on Twitter.

Originally published on my website.