Some people say good things in life happen to those who are lucky. But some people seem to get lucky over and over. It appears, that some people may be actually creating a bit of their own luck. We are all dealt a different set of initial cards but what we do with them is up to us. And, from my simple life experiences, stacking the odds in your favor is a sure-fire way to create the most opportunity and be positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they come available.
Stacking the odds in your favor is simple. The basic idea is to set up environments that are conductive to success. Often, choosing your surroundings has just as much of an impact as the actions you take. If you are trying to lose weight and everything in your house is unhealthy – bad odds of being successful. If you are trying to stop smoking and you work in the restaurant industry in a place where everyone else smokes – you are stacking the odds against success. Trying to meet classy ladies at your favorite biker bar (think Harley not Trek) is an effort futility. Civic or religious organizations often provide much better opportunities to meet that bring-home-to-mom type lady. When I worked as a counselor at a summer camp, there were twice as many girls as guys- better odds. The complete opposite would be trying to find a wife at a tech school or video game convention. Think about where the odds give you favor and seek those positions out.
Jobs tend to be the hot topic these days and I’m surprised at how few people plan their occupations and locations to maximize their possibilities. Ole’ Covey may have had this one right- begin with the end in mind. Think through jobs with the lens of supply and demand. Nursing jobs are currently in abundance everywhere expect small towns with nursing programs. Tech jobs seem to be a hot commodity but probably will not give you a great return is south Alabama. Determining what is in demand, then working to position yourself to take advantage of that demand keeps you flexible and employable. What can you do to make yourself competitive for where you want to be? What does the ideal candidate for the job you want look like? What do you need to do to increase your odds of success?
Knowing the Odds, Beating The Odds
I used to be a bit of a poker player. For a short time, I thought I was actually pretty decent. A few trips to Vegas surely cured me of any over-confidence, but my big takeaway was simple: knowing the odds is pretty helpful when you are playing cards (or any games for that matter). Even if you don’t plan to be a professional, knowing simple odds can make you much more likely to succeed. It only takes someone 20 minutes to learn enough about craps to be better than 90% of the people who play. But few even take the time for that. There are often times in your life where small amounts of effort will lead to exceptionally large dividends. Just small changes in the odds can make you poor or rich.
Have you ever looked at the back of a scratch off lottery ticket? They actually tell you how bad the odds are. The ones in Georgia tell you the payout is about 25%. That is, every dollar you put in, you get a quarter back. That is some expensive entertainment. Do you know the odds for the game of life? Are you fighting an uphill battle? What areas of life could use a little more research? Which areas do you need to study a little more before you are ready for the challenge? Know the odds before you jump off the deep end.
For many people, it may take twenty years to become an overnight success. Most writers and musicians have practiced their craft for years before anyone more than their family and a few friends start to listen. So what does creating luck entail? Creating luck is a process of learning, positioning, persistence, and patience. I often think about luck every year when I watch the March Madness Basketball Tournament. Every year some small team always seems to upset a large established program full of NBA talent. The easy thing to assume is that the team hit a lucky shot at the end to win the game. But it takes a lot more than one lucky shot for Northern Utah State to be within two points of Duke with seconds left on the clock.
Position is important. Are you interacting with people that can teach you the skills you need to succeed? Are you in a place or surrounded by people who are going in a direction you would like to? If you want to quit smoking, hanging out with all your old smoking buddies every day will not help your odds of quitting.
Persistence is often underrated. Once you have established the odds and identified challenges to your goal, simply sticking with it is incredibly important. Often, results take time and life change does not happen over night. Be prepared to be persistent if you expect to be in the right place at the right time. Chances are good you will spend a lot of time in the right place at the wrong time before the stars align in perfect timing. Finally, patience. Our time frame is often different from reality. Things often take longer than we wish or expect. Being patient is integral to success. Enjoy the inconsistencies of perfect timing. Try and embrace the unknown. Stacking the odds in your favor, coupled with patience, gives you an almost unfair advantage in life.
So, how are you positioning yourself? Are you planning out a course of action that stacks the odds in your favor? Are you utilizing systems like passive barriers to increase your odds of success. What can you do in the near future to increase your odds of success? What does that look like for you?