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Luck, Preparation, and Opportunity

By Retained | June 25, 2024

Roman philosopher Seneca is credited with being the first to say, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Now, I am certain that there are some lucky people that have been light on prep and heavy on luck. Lottery winners come to mind.

Most of us get a lot luckier when we prepare for any peak we want to reach. Jim Collins, in his book, “Great by Choice” provides many wonderful instances. For example, he dives deep into the story of the race to be the first to reach the South Pole. It was 1911 and Amundsen planted the flag for Norway. He was competing to be the first against Captain Scott and his team from Britain. Amundsen’s entire team survived, making it back to base, whereas Scott’s team all died on the return trip. Collins explains the excruciating details that Amundsen employed to accomplish the goal, including finding a launch point that was 60 miles closer to the Pole. He also selected dogs to pull the supplies where Scott selected donkeys. What Scott didn’t realize is that donkeys sweat and when combined with freezing temperatures, they froze to death, so the men ended up having to pull the supplies using manpower only.

As we roll out the Retained website as one of many aspects in our preparation to be a leading executive search firm, we are mindful of the importance of groundwork. I/we recognize that companies seeking a firm to assist them in finding the ideal leader to advance company goals want to be certain that their selection does sweat the small stuff.  Since companies have many choices, they also will want to know what makes their selection special. We all know that making a bad hire is costly and I am suggesting that the due diligence in selecting a search firm can greatly increase the odds for success.

At Retained and Tier4 Group, we like to think we have taken the Amundsen path to communicate our purpose and we have conveyed our differentiators to instill confidence in anyone looking for a great firm for their next hire. I invite you to do your prep and if you end up selecting us you, and we, will be lucky!!


– Tino Mantella