Is Career success luck, hard-work or something else?

If you ask someone about what drove their success within their career, you will likely hear stories of hard-work, skill development and experience. Any number of books written about the journey of those who rise to rewarding positions in their career focus on the importance of hard work, yet little talk about the importance of good fortune or luck. The reason for this can be categorised into three different areas or biases we have as humans.

The first is the egocentric bias; in simple terms, we believe we have worked harder than others, yet if two people working on the same project are asked what level of work they put in compared to the other, the combined result adds up to more than 100% of the work. This is not possible, so the bias here is that our ego can naturally default to a bias that we are working harder and therefore, the process to achieve career success is self-proclaimed ‘hard work’.

The next area is our control bias; we believe we control or influence successful outcomes when often we cannot. As humans, we like to feel in control of the outcomes we seek to validate our goal’s motivation. If the goal is career success, our control bias will limit our perspective on all factors to motivate us to keep going. In some instances, this is healthy; if we truly knew how many external factors were influencing the outcome we are seeking, then perhaps we may not be motivated at all.

The final bias is our confirmation bias, created through our existing or learned beliefs. Confirmation bias tends to push us towards information and look for pathways that we already believe to be the right way. This relies on inconsistent or assumed information in decision-making as the factors that may influence success in pursuing a goal the most are ignored. This means that we can make decisions based on what we believe is right rather than seeking more information to make the most informed decision.

So, our question for this article – Is Career success Luck, Hard-work or something else? We believe it is all three. However, the critical factor is how educators use present and use data in meaningful Career Education workflows for students. University is just one pathway, and ATAR is just one measure. Introducing measures such as those proposed in the “future skills” and capturing micro-credentials is just the beginning.

Helping students lead their career pathways and measuring the results through destination reporting closes the loop and creates new data points that can be used to improve guidance and raise the likelihood of career success. The earlier career education starts, the more informed the student is about the purpose of their education – to find a rewarding and adaptable future.

What are your thoughts?