One of my favorite book series turned movies growing up was J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy, Lord of The Rings. I haven’t read the books in well over a decade, but after listening to Dan Carlin’s series on World War I I have been wanting to revisit the books. Carlin explained how Tolkien was a veteran of the first world war, and how much of the imagery and themes from the book were influenced during his time in the war.
With this in mind I have been looking to reread the series, not just to be entertained, but also with a more critical eye on what lessons Tolkien is sharing with his readers. This blog series will start with “The Hobbit” through the full trilogy. I hope you enjoy it.
Yesterday, Seth Godin published this piece titled “Luck On Demand”:
“Alas, not an option.
Luck over time is inevitable, though.
If you show up with good work and generous action, again and again, sooner or later something that appears to others to be luck will appear.
Because luck over time is a symptom of productive contributions. It rarely happens when you need it most, it almost never happens in equal proportion to what feels fair (to you or to others), but it happens.
The trap is hoping that a short-term focus on luck on demand will pay off instead.”
This was a timely article as I had just gotten to the part of The Hobbit where Bilbo saves the dwarves from the spiders in Mirkwood AND from the wood-elves jail cell. Then, as he approaches the deep cave where the dragon sleeps Tolkien writes: “It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did.”
Which brings us to the next lesson: The more you do, the more you can do.
Or, as Seth puts it, luck is a symptom of productive contributions.
If you’ve read The Hobbit you know that Bilbo when he is recruited for the journey is not so sure if he is up for the challenge. He is comfortable in his little home and things are going well enough. Gandalf thrusts him into the journey, but Bilbo and his companions still don’t believe in him. Then he is able to escape from the Goblins, now he has some wind at his back, when in a moment of courage he kills a giant spider! This impresses even himself, and gives him the courage to take on more to save the dwarves. One challenge leads to another and he is standing tall and ready to take on freeing his companions from the dungeons. A change has happened in our hero, but he got there one step at a time – beginning with walking out his front door. The more he accomplished, the more he is able to accomplish.