success = your current snapshot + luck

From the three years I've been studying at Waterloo, I've noticed the culture and competition here can become quite toxic. This negative energy I'm talking about manifests in our interactions with others, and even ourselves. I've been using a mental model to keep me sane amongst Waterloo's hyper-competitive atmosphere. I like to refer to it as Snapshots. It essentially applies a systems/analytical mindset to the age-old adage: everyone's on their own timeline.

My mental model with success can be modelled with the following equation:

success = your current snapshot + luck

Your current snapshot

What do I mean by "your current snapshot"? Your current snapshot is the distance travelled from the start line.

For example, whenever a company rejects me even with a good interview performance, the energy I create in my body is one that embodies the growth mindset, rather than the fixed. Objectively, perhaps my performance on the interview was considered "good". But that doesn't mean anything if there's someone who performed better. It's likely that better person started running this race before me.


The most recent class of NASA astronauts had 18,300 applicants selected in 2017, and only 11 were selected and went on to graduate fom the astronaut training program.

Veritasium created a toy model of the selection process. The model assumes that an astronaut's application score is 95% based on skill, experience, and hard work. 5% was based on luck. For each applicant, the skill and luck scores were randomly generated. The 11 applicant's with the highest total score generated would be chosen. This simulation was repeated 1000 times, which represented 1000 selections. Veritasium found that the top 11 astronauts were always very lucky, with a random luck score of 94.7%. On average, only 1.6 of the 11 astronauts are picked due to skill alone.

This means that 9/11 astronauts would have been different had luck played no role at all.

All of this is to say that being successful requires a lot of luck. It's very important to realize this during your pursuit of success. Whatever that success may be. It's better to treat life as if luck didn't exist at all, so you don't become deterred in maximing your skill score. However, there are ways of increasing your luck.