This is a cliche, but a great one. Some people believe there is no such thing as luck. Mozart had said that his genius was all due to hard work. Randy Pauch, whom I have been reading (the last lecture), says the same. The extra hours that you put in gives you additional insight into the problem you are trying to solve.
I remember, when I aced the GATE exam. This is an entrance exam for admissions to the post-graduate (or graudate as they call in US) courses in Indian institutions. In the subject part, I had 4 problems in Material Sciences that I solved with 100% accuracy. It was a thrill as I had solved these problems before studying for the exams. Usually Material Sciences is a fairly advanced subject and students would just try to pass and not get deep into it. The teachers were not that good either to motivate them. Somehow this subject fascinated me and I had bought a book on the subject by a Professor at the Indian Institute of Sciences. One of the chapters’ excercises had quite a few problems and I had worked on these diligently.
I had taken GATE the year earlier and hadn’t studied anything for it. My friends who were the toppers in the university, would always discourage additional studying. I didn’t realize that wouldn’t work for me. I was an above-average student in the class and not certainly a topper. So I didn’t get good scores.
While I got a good job offer in the private sector, I didn’t take that up as my aims were higher. I had passed the entrance exams of quite a few public sectors and the Defense department institution – DRDE. As I got into the interview, the medical checkup yielded disheartening results for me. I had a problem with my eyesight and I was disqualified from entering the Defense jobs. They said a scientist needs to have perfect vision. Nothing worked to get past this. So I was determined to pursue post-graduation and started studying for GATE again. It was then I realized there is a lot of preparation that needs to get done before the exam.
The second time around I got 99.01 percentile overall; and 99.5 percentile in the subject exam (Mechanical Engineering). Luck had indeed smiled on me this time for hard work could not be ignored.