If you’re a baseball fan there’s no doubt what you’ll be doing tomorrow night as the 83rd All Star game gets underway. If so you might expect to see R. A. Dickey on the mound for the NL, the NY Mets’ pitcher who is currently the only active player in the majors using the knuckleball as his primary pitch. Dickey’s success and fame through the development of his famous knuckleball did not come easily, though. His career has been a rollercoaster ride thinking at one point his arm was shot and his career near its end – until he was encouraged to take a trip back to the minors to develop the knuckleball for which he has now become famous. But that’s not all his story. In his recent autobiography, Wherever I Wind up: My Quest for Truth . . ., Dickey also reveals a rocky childhood having suffered sexual abuse and struggles with suicidal thoughts. Today, besides baseball he also helps operate “Honoring the Father Ministries” which provides food, medical supplies and baseball equipment to the impoverished in Latin America.
We love success stories like Dickey’s, don’t we, people who overcome the greatest odds to accomplish the greatest successes? We all know them – some famous, though most unknown beyond a small circle of friends – from great athletes and statesmen to those who have overcome poverty, dejection, racial discrimination, and illnesses or physical disabilities, who have leveraged their misfortunes into something extraordinary.
In his newest book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins devotes an entire chapter on the role luck plays in success. First of all he reminds us that we all contend with luck, good and bad. In a nutshell, though, his research concludes that good luck is never the determining factor in success nor bad luck in failure, rather it is what we do with the luck we receive. Failure, for instance, is as likely to occur from good luck as it is from bad luck by not taking full advantage of the opportunities it offers. Likewise, bad luck can often times lead to success as much as good luck when we leverage it into something better and useful as with the examples above demonstrate.
R. A. Dickey would never have become a great knuckleballer if his career had not begun to falter. Instead, he became great by choice as Collin’s book title suggests. What kind of luck are you having – good or bad – that could be turned into something great?