September 11, 2001 - LUCK Kept Him Alive

On Tuesday, many will remember that horrific day in 2001, especially those of us who were in NYC that morning.

Here's a passage I wrote 4 years ago about a man I played basketball with on a weekly basis:

Many people were fortunate to be absent from their job on that fateful morning for a variety of reasons. One of those absentees was a member of my gym. He worked for the firm Cantor Fitzgerald which lost the majority (over 600) of their employees that day. He was playing in his weekly Tuesday morning basketball game which didn't end until 8am. He was on his way to work when the first plane hit. I wanted to ask him how he felt to be alive but the moment never felt right. Two of his colleagues (nice guys) who often played basketball with me at the gym were in the office that morning and never came home. Fortune smiles on some and frowns on others.
 My article from 4 years ago (Sept 11, 2001 - Pain, Giving, Renewal)

I was thinking of him lately as if not for the LUCK of that basketball game, he would have surely been dead.

Many of us probably don't attribute our success to luck although it is difficult not to see how important luck really is.

-- Wasn't I lucky to be born with a basketball talent? I think so. Yes, I cultivated the talent and made the best use of it to get a college scholarship although luck played a large part. Without the luck of basketball along with the luck of having a great mentor and parents, my life wouldn't have been nearly as interesting or exciting.

-- Hard to see how Bill Gates wasn't lucky to be born into a well-off household where he could play with computers at his leisure during his childhood. If he came from a poor household, it is highly unlikely that he would have been as successful.

-- Wasn't it luck that someone took a chance on an overweight black woman named Oprah early in her career? With the ratings war and beauty (just look at CNBC) being more of an emphasis for women today, it's hard to imagine a 2012 Oprah getting that lucky break.

Oprah and Gates made the absolute best of their fortunate situations although luck cannot and should not be discounted.

-- If Barack Obama hadn't lost that 2000 Congressional race to Bobby Rush, is there any doubt that there wouldn't be a President Obama? Luck.

-- In 1982, I asked an older mentor (was married before) to come to my community pool as I noticed  there were plenty of friendly and single ladies. He met a kind woman and they hit it off immediately. They moved in together within weeks and will be celebrating 30 years of marriage soon. They have been a perfect match! Hard not to see the luck in that moment.

If you are not a believer of luck in your success, maybe this quote from a famous writer might give you some food for thought.

"People really don't like to hear success explained away as luck, especially successful people. As they age and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don't want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There's a reason for this. The world doesn't want to acknowledge it either. Don't be deceived by life's outcomes. Life's outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that you have had success, you have also had luck. And with luck comes obligation."
(Michael Lewis - Author of MoneyBall)

If I had the chance to go back to any of our basketball nights after 9/11, when we sat together exhausted after fun competition, I would ask the aforementioned man one question:

Don't you feel like a Lucky Guy after 9/11?

Happy Gswede Sunday!

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