Is talent more important

People tend to overestimate themselves. The bad exam? Bad luck with the task. The promotion to head of department? Performance prevails. If there is a problem in your career, fate is yours. If it goes ahead, it confirms the competence. But the truth also means that HR managers like things in common: the applicant from their own university, the candidate from their hometown. Applicants with a German name have an advantage anyway. And sometimes people just submit their résumé at the right time or get to know their boss in the train compartment.

Does talent still prevail in the end? The physicists Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Rapisarda and the economist Alessio Biondo from the University of Catania in Sicily wanted to know more about this. They reproduced a fictional society in a simulation: a few people made them super smart and competent, many made average talent, and a few made them stupid. In the beginning, everyone in the model achieved the same performance, which was measured in terms of income.

Model experiment: those with average talent with a lot of luck are most successful

But then the scientists randomly spread luck and bad luck every six months: A car accident reduced performance by half, and people were able to implement an innovative idea with varying degrees of success, depending on their skills. After 40 fictional years it became clear that those who are talented are more likely to be successful. The most successful, however, are usually average smart and are particularly lucky.

A model can never fully grasp reality. One result of the experiment, however, is that the influence of happiness on one's career should not be underestimated. However, it also takes a certain amount of talent.

Dominic Multerer is such an example. He was actually just an intern. His employer: a start-up with two employees. But a business journalist was impressed by how the 16-year-old, with a secondary school leaving certificate, advertised a caffeine chewing gum. The author wrote about the portrait of the youth in Handelsblatt: "Germany's probably youngest head of marketing" A headline like a title. It made him interesting for entrepreneurs. First, a large oil company invited him to give a lecture. It was the breakthrough to a career as a speaker, consultant, author and interim manager.

"Nobody is given anything," says Claudia Ohainski. As a headhunter, she is looking for candidates for top positions and has only limited belief in luck: "A little bit of luck can always ensure that things go a little faster. But basically, a career is always the result of upstream activities, diligence, hard work and a certain optimism ", she says.

In other words: Dominic Multerer must have offered his listeners something. The leap of faith was justified. Today, at the age of 27, he is managed by a speaker agency. He has founded four companies, written several books on branding and practical management, teaches a course at a university.

And what is the chance that luck will hit you? Somebody like Jens Braak could calculate that. As a physicist, he has dealt with dynamic systems that appear unpredictable. He now works as a career coach. "Chance is always part of the game," he says. The chance of happy coincidences cannot be quantified. For Braak, however, that is not decisive either. He believes that one can invite happiness if one is aware of the random factor.