COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Col. Steven Boatright, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group commander at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, was the guest speaker for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-25’s graduation Sept. 27 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
Boatright, still an active flyer, told a couple of personal stories involving luck to the Air Force’s newest aviators. Boatright said he believes in luck and explained how to have it on your side.
“What is luck,” Boatright asked. “It is success or failure apparently caused by chance. … It certainly looks like chance, because we rarely see all the (parts) that come into play that make people quote unquote ‘lucky.’”
Boatright used the game rock-paper-scissors, commonly believed to be based on luck, as an example in his speech and explained his strategy when he plays, and how he usually wins.
If a player throws the same throw twice in a row they’re unlikely to throw it again, he said. When this happens, he said he throws something different as well, because he will either win or come out with a tie.
“The experts at World Rock Paper Scissors Society had many more techniques,” Boatright said. “But what is all of this gee whiz about rock-paper-scissors anyway? That’s just it, it’s gee whiz.”
Boatright said skill is more prevalent than luck in the game of life, much like rock-paper-scissors. He said people can create thier own luck and he told another story about his son to prove his point.
Every Christmas, his son’s middle school would have a raffle for a giant container of candy, he said. Boatright said he only gave his son enough money for one raffle ticket, but it was not enough for his son.
“He really wanted to be a winner and he figured out how,” Boatright said. “He told his friends that if they gave him money, he could win and he’d share the loot.”
Boatright said he felt weary about the situation because he did not want to teach his child it was okay for him to gamble other children’s money. Although it may have seemed wrong to Boatright at first, his son had some logic to his plan, he said.
“He recognized early that is was this simple truism: that while you might have a small chance to win the lottery, in this case a candy lottery, if you don’t buy a ticket, you can guarantee failure,” Boatright said. “My son took this idea even further, buying more tickets increases your odds.”
Boatright said his son won two years in a row at his middle school. While there may have been a little luck involved, he worked the odds, he said.
A person can leave life to chance or they can be prepared in order to beat the odds and enjoy it, he said.
“Like Thomas Jefferson said ‘Chances favor prepared minds,’” Boatright said. “Lucky people are those who are able to recognize and grab opportunities when they come to them. The harder you work, the luckier you will be.”
Boatright ended his speech by motivating the graduates by wishing them ‘luck’ throughout their careers.
“It’s silly to think your lucky socks are a satisfactory substitute for detailed planning and disciplined study,” Boatright said. “The only thing lucky you were born with was the ability and the drive to overcome bad luck by being prepared. You aren’t lucky, but deserving to get your wings.”