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09 October 2010

Quote: Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. But to what degree?

Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. So goes a famous quote from an unknown source.

The quote incorrectly assumes an either-or, cause-effect relationship.

Luck is a pattern of circumstances that seem non-random. It is a pattern of values falling outside the expected limits.

Circumstances result from chance, previous circumstances, and choices that exercise partial control over the creation of future circumstances. Luck, therefore, is a seemingly non-random pattern resulting from unusual, random chance (coincidence), a lack of change to the circumstances, or control resulting from choices made.

Luck is an interpretation of current circumstances. Neither can be changed. Choice can be uneducated and driven by emotion, or it can be informed and considered. The quality of a choice (the selection of one option from two or more) can be controlled.

Since true coincidence is more likely to end than to continue, it disappears from the equation.

Two things result in a greater likelihood of "bad" luck: adverse circumstances and uneducated choices. Two things result in greater likelihood of "good" luck: favorable circumstances and educated, considered choices. Educated, considered choices can change circumstances or can prepare to expand the impact of advantageous circumstances when they occur.

We cannot control circumstances. Choice, however, influences future circumstances.

I disagree with the literal sense of Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. It ignores that success or lack thereof depends on both circumstances and on choices.

The quote also ignores the process of setting the goals that define success. We can choose either probably attainable goals, unrealistic goals, or no goals at all.

Circumstances set the most probable default outcome, but our choice of goals and our choice of actions to change or take advantage of circumstances influence the probability of success.

We are not responsible for circumstances' effects on our degree of success, but we are responsible for our choices' effects. Choose realistic goals that will define you as successful. Change the circumstances that you can. Prepare to take advantage of favorable circumstances.

We may receive from the hands of others the clay with which to create our victory cups; but the cups are ours to design and to shape.

For persons of faith, I will draw out another factor that I silently lumped in with circumstances, above. I believe in a personal, planning Creator. I don't believe in a universal fatalism, but I do believe that the Creator intervenes to bring about certain things.

Most of us set goals for ourselves first in this world, and after that for the next world. The Creator prioritizes goals for us first for the spiritual dimension, and after that for the physical world. If we don't achieve our goals, we must cut ourselves slack because we may have attained the Creator's greater goals without knowing it.

We who value the will of our Creator should strive to align our goals with what we know of the Creator's goals and to allow for unexpected ones. Victory cups of His making outshine any that we could ever design.

Copyright 2010, Richard Wheeler. Free to use for non-profit purposes.

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