“Anyone can build a fortune – I started with two empty hands, and look at me now” is something successful people say and that I, who isn’t exactly what you’d call an economical success, find deeply provoking. Jealousy? Why yes sure. I mean of course. But really, it’s mostly because of the utter lack of self awareness, the ridiculous ignorance on how life works.
Because, you see, noone truly starts with two empty hands. Not even those who started playing World of Warcraft at launch.
Or should I say, noone starts with two empty hands and survives. Because, you know, infants don’t last long after birth without other human beings helping them, right. And even in WoW Vanilla, you’d start with a shirt, pants, boots, weapon, a backpack and a few silver coins. Heck, you’d even find some food and drinks in that backpack.
But okay, everyone starts with the same amount of close-to-nothing in their almost-empty hands. Why does the expression still provoke me? Well, because if you let successful people tell their tale, you’ll sooner or later hear about that time their father-in-law lended them those fourty grand they needed to buy that garage, or how their friend put in some good words to their friend who happened to own a music studio, and so on.
Key word here: Someone put useful things in those empty hands. For free.
Now, of course you can rarely reach the green fields of economical independence without hard work (unless you are, say, a European royalty, or the child of some megarich celebrity/company owner/something like that). To quote a Swedish alpine skiing world champion of the 80’s, Ingemar Stenmark, when asked about how lucky he was: “I know nothing about luck. Only that the more I practise, the more luck I get.”
Here’s the thing about luck: to recieve it, you have to expose yourself to it. In other words, luck won’t get you Invincible as long as you stay in The Barrens.
And during Wrath of the Lich King, you’d need 24 friends and hours of hard work to even get to the luck exposing itself. And I bet you my three remaining wisdom teeth that you didn’t manage to farm those 24 friends all by yourself, starting with two empty hands.
I have plenty of time to play World of Warcraft. Logically, I would be economically independent ingame by now. I’m not. See, there’s a reason I have plenty of time, and that is because I’ve been unable to work for an income for a while. And if you want to make gold in World of Warcraft, you need to be able to put some real work into it.
I still earned quite some coin though. I’ve had at least one max level toon since Wrath of the Lich King, to do daily quests/world quests and garrison/class hall missions on, gather resources and craft items to sell. For all the gold and other currency that I got, I could buy heirlooms. Which means that any time I roll a new character, I may start off with that one set of shirt, pants, boots, backpack, silvers, food and drinks, like anyone else starting with a new character, but sooner than you can spell out “Val’sharah”, I’ll have better gear, more gold, and higher level than anyone who started to play this game for the first time.
With a max level toon, you can help your alts. Starting over with a new class means tiresome levelling, but it’s usually faster and easier than with your first toon. That levelcapped toon you put so many hours into before, they now practically generate their own gold, right. And the new toons can get other professions, their own garrisons, and generate even more gold.
Consequently, you’ll make more and more gold, for less and less work.
When lolling around on my max level toons, or perhaps a tinkered levelling toon, I have the opportunity to help other people. Low-levels who struggle with their quest-target, players who don’t know where to go next, paladins who don’t quite understand the difference between holy spec and retribution, and so on. They may have began with two empty hands, but then I, or some other equally generous person, swoosh by and drop some gifts in those hands before vanishing into the sunset. I can’t offer that much help in neither WoW nor real life, but I can still offer some. It might make a difference for the one recieving it.
Because, not everyone can “succeed”. We all have different abilities, different capacity. Some people can’t reach maxlevel even on one single toon. At least not without help. Or luck. And, as with luck, you usually have to reach out for it. That in itself requires effort – efforts that some people may not have the energy or the means to make. Which means they rely on other people’s good will to offer their help.
Many people get this. And still, so many of the successful people sit there in their 950+ gear that they got from buying boosts for the gold they bought with real money that they got from the funds their grandparents gave them on their first birthday, and say: “Anyone can build a fortune – I started with two empty hands, and look at me now”.