Is there a word for success because of (as opposed to in spite of) ignorance / inexperience / unfamiliarity with the field in which you made your attempt, where a more experienced / knowledgeable person would have failed.

Will of course usually involve a degree of luck.

e.g. being ignorant of a field, you weren't aware of the difficulty of a task, and showed enough determination and actually succeeded, whereas someone who knew it better might have given up or reduced their efforts at a certain point knowing that it was too difficult to continue

Alternatively, you made a bad decision, which through a stroke of luck, turned out to be the one that worked (e.g. for Poker players - a bad Texas Hold'em player may call with a 2 & 7 and then win the hand because 2, 7, 7 appears on the flop)


(in light of some of the answers)

The phrase is not intended to be meant as complimentary (e.g. "the ability to think out side the box").

Also just wanted to emphasise that ignorance is a contributing factor to the success - i.e. someone more knowledgeable would have been likely to fail.

At first I was thinking a bit like "Pull a Homer" which is a fictional phrase defined in The Simpsons when Homer, through pure luck, presses the correct button to prevent a nuclear melt-down. But that's not quite correct because a knowledgeable person would have known the correct button to press.

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    In German there is a very common proverb "Der dümmste Bauer hat die dicksten Kartoffeln" (the dumbest farmer gets the biggest potatoes), which somehow fits your concept. However, the proverb does not really imply causality, rather a regularity of coincidence. Oct 8, 2018 at 11:49

3 Answers 3


"Beginner's luck" is luck supposed to favor inexperienced people.

In a corporate environment, "the Peter principle" describes being advanced until one is completely incompetent at the position.


Some people are better able to solve a particular problem because they don't have the narrow vision or preconceptions of people who, after having worked so closely with something, have become constrained by their routine approach to it. (That could lead to a "no, that's not possible" mentality because they "know better.")

Being able to forego those instilled patterns of experience (and creatively solve something in particular particular) is expressed by the phrase think outside the box.

From The Phrase Finder, it means:

Think creatively, unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints.

Of course, it's a false conclusion to think that knowledge or experience would be a detriment in most cases. (More often than not, ignorance does not result in a solution.) The best of both worlds is to be able to both think within set patterns formed by experience and to look at something from the outside at the same time.


We would normally point to the luck involved saying something like "boy, was I ever in the right place at the right time". This implies an undeserved amount of success.

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