TITLE: Quality and Quantity, Thoroughbred Edition AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 08, 2012 3:22 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I'll Have Another was not highly sought after as a yearling, when he was purchased for the relatively small sum of $11,000. On Saturday, I'll Have Another rallied down the stretch to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby, passing Bodemeister, one of the race favorites that had led impressively from the gate. Afterward, a television commentator asked the horse's trainer, "What did you and the owner see in the horse way back that made you want to buy it?" The trainer's answer was unusually honest. He said something to the effect,
We buy a lot of horses. Some work out, and some don't. There is a lot of luck involved. You do the right things and see what happens.
This is as a good an example as I've heard in a while of the relationship between quantity and quality, which my memory often connects with stories from the book Art and Fear. People are way too fond of mythologizing successes and then romanticizing the processes that lead to them. In most vocations and most avocations, the best way to succeed is to do the right things, to work hard, be unlucky a lot, and occasionally get lucky. This mindset does not to diminish the value of hard work and good practices. No, it exalts their value. What it diminishes is our sense of control over outcomes in a complex world. Do your best and you will get better. Just keep in mind that we often have a lot less control over success and failure than our mythology tends to tell us. -----