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Luck Is The Residue Of Design

My favorite quote “Luck Is The Residue Of Design” was originally attributed to the English poet John Milton (1608-1674) during the time of Oliver Cromwell. But the only reason we know of its existence is because of a man by the name of Wesley Branch Rickey. Rickey was the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Jackie Robinson in the 1940s. Rickey also created the framework for the modern minor league farm system and also was the first to require the use of a batting helmet. He was posthumously added to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. During his 1946 interview for The Sporting News, Rickey said, “Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. The law of cause and effect and causality both work the same with inexorable exactitudes. Luck is the residue of design” The reason I like this quote so much as it gives a node to luck but it also attributes it to planning and work. When I hear someone attribute success to luck I always think about the 1000’s of hours it took to experience that “luck”.

Luck Is The Residue Of Design

Branch Rickey – December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965


Success has no secret. Luck is part of it but I have been telling my son for years that he should go “make is own luck”. Being born into a good family helps but I had no such “luck”. Knowing the right people helps but this has more to do with proximity. Proximity is something that you can shape because if you depend on luck you are never going to be “discovered”. 

In the end, you get what you get and it’s how you handle, prepare and hard work that will dictate your success. I promise. I have known several people who were “lucky” enough to have the right family, inheritance, and Proximity to smart people but still ended up with nothing.


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