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The blurred lines of luck and skill

Progressive Forage Editor Joy Hendrix Published on 01 March 2021

There’s a fine line between mastering a skill and being lucky enough to pull an action off successfully. A skill is defined as the ability to do something well, but simple tasks can be done well with a certain amount of luck and a lot less effort.

There are simple tasks I should be able to research, plan and execute as a skill but, much to my dismay, I can’t seem to get the job done. Recently this truth has been revealed in my own house with much frustration on my part, specifically in my inability to sell anything.

I’ve been in a bit of an organizing state attempting to get rid of things we don’t need and evaluating the piles of things that seem to build up quickly for what is worth keeping. A major part of this project has been deciding what to do with the things that have been culled. In trying to be resourceful, I decided to try to post things online and get them in the hands of someone who desires them.

My good intentions were quickly spoiled by the ads being published for over a week with no bites. My patience was dwindling with the number of items that have yet to leave my possession. I researched how to post effective ads and how to draw more traffic to the items, but called it quits after another week of best effort yielded no more success than the first. I relayed the task to my husband, thinking he would figure out a different way to purge the unwanted items from our house.

Much to my surprise, a car pulled up to our house a few hours later to collect a large futon. Turns out, my husband created his own advertisements for the items and was able to get rid of them in only a few hours. The luck became evident when his posts didn’t follow any of the rules that came from my research on “best practices to use when creating an ad” – in fact, they didn’t even follow basic rules of sentence structure. It was the first indication that navigating the online market was much less of a skill than I previously thought.

The second instance of luck replacing skill that day was the car that came to collect the futon. You may have caught onto the issue here: A compact car came to collect a 6-foot futon. The driver of the car seemed to be aware they had luck on their side that day, as they very confidently rolled down all four windows and proceeded to arrange the cushion portion in the backseat with about 8 inches sticking out on each side.

Next, they meticulously arranged the frame of the futon so it was running the same direction as the car and the metal supports of the frame were as close as possible to the open windows. They must have channeled their inner farmer for the next step, as they pulled out a shiny new roll of everyone’s favorite silver tape and wrapped it around the frame to create handles they could cling to from the front seat of the car with the windows rolled down.

The ability to drive off and get the piece of furniture back to their destination was pure luck to me, while my husband insisted they had a certain skill that enabled them to pull that stunt off. I feel confident in saying it falls into the category of getting it done successfully with minimal effort.

Some of my favorite emails to receive are the submissions for the Makin’ Do section that runs in our magazine (on page 43 this month). I see the same crossover between luck and skill in many of these submissions, but if it gets the job done correctly, let’s call it ingenuity.

With every Makin’ Do email I receive, I’m reminded why producers are so resilient in their craft. The ability to get things done, no matter what best practice it goes against, is a skill in itself. At the end of the day, some things just need to be done, and no one is more capable of doing what is needed with the resources they have than producers.

So share with me your ingenuity at work on your operation or household, and help me decide if luck or skill wins out with these quick fixes. If appropriate, we will run it in our Makin’ Do section for everyone to weigh in on.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to believe I just don’t have the luck on my side to get rid of the rest of the things laying around my house. I will leave that task up to those in my household who do seem to possess that level of “ingenuity.” end mark

Joy Hendrix
  • Joy Hendrix

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