The Environment Variables

What do we owe success to? We could chalk it up to luck and effort, but is luck a truly fitting name for all the things we think we can't control?

The Environment Variables

A couple weeks ago 10Pines had its 10th Anniversary party. All drinking aside, it was an excellent occasion to give speeches and tell stories. There’s a special one that I still recall. I’m not really the kind of person who dares writing non-technical blog posts, but I couldn’t resist a topic so esoteric as luck.

Jorge Silva was the speaker.  A concept so alien and far away from my reality such as starting a company ended up sounding strangely relatable when Jorge factored his perception of his own luck into it. I saw a person so grateful for what he'd built with others that he could not help but wonder about fortune’s involvement on it all. I remember that he ended his speech saying that he didn’t know whether luck exists, but...

It’s funny. You see, I forgot the rest of the sentence. At this point I’ve forgotten most of the exact words from the speech. But the question he made himself out loud, that certainty he lacked, I can’t help but think that I lack it too.

I believe in luck. At the very least it’s the name we give to a set of environment variables that we have no control over. But on the days my wishful thinking is strongest it becomes a sort of currency. A coin purse that an invisible hand reaches into whenever we want to achieve something. Whether this hand helps us pay for those achievements, or instead purchases setbacks to put them in our way, that’s something we cannot control.

More concerning still, the reasonings of this invisible hand are something we cannot know. There are times where the scale of fortune tips to one extreme with such strength that it makes us crave for an explanation more than ever.

Do we deserve this thing so good or so bad that it makes us cry all the same?

Have we been doing well enough that the invisible hand owes us a reward, or at the very least a lack of punishment?

I don't think the answer to these questions can ever be true nor false, but rather null, and this is where my wishful thinking gets weaker. Because “to deserve something” becomes far too cruel a concept if we envision an invisible hand dealing punishments and rewards justly.

To me, “deserving” simply means that the environment variables that we ourselves set are enough for us to achieve something. This won’t always be the case. Unforeseen variables will be set by the world around us, and our effort may or may not end up being enough. Such is life.

But even if it’s not wishful thinking, it’s still far from bleak. Because the system can be rigged. The scales can be tipped in our favor so long as the environment variables we cannot control are set by the right people. And this is exactly what 10Pines does.

My parents were in the middle of divorcing when I started working here. Suddenly all the bad things that came from that situation were mixed with the goodness that I received here. A second home, a sense of self-independence and most positive influences. And eventually, the good environment variables overcame the bad ones. I often wonder how would things be for me if I’d only had the bad variables in my life, and I’m eternally grateful that those what-ifs never came to be.

My message for everyone, Jorge especially, is that at some point in your lives you all became luck makers. You took your own environment variables and turned them into something that is growing, replicating and setting the bases for what every member of the 10Pines family now calls fortune. It is a blessing to be a part of it, and it’s an even greater one to get the chance to set good environment variables for others. Thank you.