Was Bill Gates just plain lucky?
At a Columbia University Business School town hall meeting hosted by CNBC, a student asked Bill Gates the role pure luck played in his success. Here is how Gates responded:
“I was lucky in many ways: I was lucky to be born with certain skills. I was lucky to have parents that created an environment where they shared what they were working on and let me to buy as many books as I wanted to, and I was lucky with timing. The invention of the microprocessor was something profound, and it turned out that only if you were young and you were looking at that could you appreciate what that meant. And I was obsessed with writing software, and it turned out that was the key missing thing that allowed the microprocessor to have this incredible impact. So in timing, in skill set, in some of the people I was lucky enough to meet – it’s unusual to have so much luck in one’s life, but it’s been a major factor in what I’ve been able to do.”
If you read his words carefully, you will see a lot of the luck he had was something he created himself – his obsession with writing software, his realization that software was the missing ingredient to making the microprocessor’s huge, his desire to read many books (which he could have gotten at the library if he didn’t have the money to buy them). The universe took care of the timing. It was his tremendous focus and drive that did the rest.