The thesis of Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling Outliers is that preeminence in a field is not principally the result of genius. Rather it is the product of cultural heritage, opportunity (often linked to the prior factor), and perhaps most important in Gladwell's eyes, subject matter mastery that comes from 10,000 hours of hard work. Gladwell cited Bill Gates as Exhibit A for that proposition. When Gates was in his teens, his private school offered training in computer coding. Gates immersed himself in it obsessively, as he freely admits. Later he became enormously successful. But there is another way to tell the Gates story and it underscores the significant role that luck can play in negotiation. It involves an on-again/off-again business deal where Gates made a bad mistake, then out of the blue had a stroke of good luck. And that was followed by an even bigger mistake by his counterpart in the negotiation, IBM.


Leary, Kimberlyn, and Michael Wheeler. "The Luck Factor in Negotiation." Negotiation Journal 36.1 (Winter 2020): 7-12.