The Mona Lisa and retirement

The Mona Lisa, surely the most celebrated painting in the world, was stolen from the Louvre in Paris in 1911, but returned three years later. There is more to the story, such as who committed the crime and his motivation, but I want to look at the question of why this is the most famous painting in the world today.

I emphasise today because it wasn’t always as famous and it didn’t always hang in the Louvre. It is received wisdom that its creator, Leonardo da Vinci, was a genius. It seems to be the case that he was a dedicated worker, to put it mildly. So we have the twin ingredients for success: skill and hard work: tick those. But the notoriety surrounding the theft of the painting also, it seems, played a part in creating an aura around it that survives to this day.

We could call this the luck factor. So by this account, success has three factors: hard work, talent and luck. We normally don’t like to attribute our successes to luck (more likely we will bring bad luck into play when things don’t go well) as it disturbs the narrative we have created, but it’s usually lurking.

However luck has a positive side to it as well, and I want to discuss this in the case of a retired person or, as I call it, a person in the phase of non-work in life. I like to think about creating outcomes, you may want to call it a method of increasing the luck factor, by doing the following in retirement:

·      Expanding your network of connections

·      Being curious and aware of possibilities that may be good for you

·      Experimenting and taking risks

Who knows, you may meet interesting people, discover further meaning in your life and altogether have fun.

But remember to pace yourself: you are no longer working!

Note: I heard about some of these ideas in a very interesting podcast called Rationally Speaking where they interviewed Robert Frank.