They fired you. So you started a company. But the world wasn’t ready for what you had to offer. So it failed. And then your marriage broke down. You moved out. Now she hates you. But at least you managed to find a job again. Except it sucks. The management are cretins. It’s soul destroying. Your commute is undertaken with the same vivacity as a death row prisoner shuffling down the corridor to be executed.
But surely your bad luck is going to end soon? It has to. Right?
You toss a coin. You’ve got heads seven times in a row. Thinking that the next toss is going to come up tails is called the gambler’s fallacy. It occurs when you mistake a statistically independent event as being linked with what came before. But getting seven heads in a row doesn’t mean the next is more likely to be tails.
Yes, it will balance out over a lifetime, but the next toss is still 50/50. You could just keep getting heads again and again.
We also apply this fallacy when we look at success.
We think that if we fail, and fail, and fail, and fail again, that we’re due a break. That just by the virtue of our consistent failure, we’re going to stumble upon success. Wrong.
Success is not a coin toss. The odds aren’t 50/50 and they certainly don’t balance across the timeline of our life. The odds are influenced by our thoughts, our actions, our decisions, our tolerance for risk, our ability to handle uncertainty and a hundred other factors.
Which means that your string of bad luck could conceivably just keep on going. Forever and ever. Nothing has to get better. A greater total number of failures doesn’t necessarily mean a greater number of successes.
The reverse applies to. Just because everything you’ve touched has worked and you’re in the midst of a run of success, doesn’t mean that it is going to end.
Life is not a coin toss. Life is a game in which the odds of success and failure remain clouded, but their ability to be altered is ever present. You don’t have to cross your fingers and wait to see what life gives you. You can rig the game and skew the odds in your favour.
How? Don’t wait for your bad luck to transform into good luck. It won’t. It has no reason to. Instead, use your bad luck as a teacher, as a mentor to guide you towards success.
And don’t wait for continual success to bring failure down upon you. That only happens if you let it. Preempt it. Imagine where it could come from, how it could strike and prepare for it’s inevitable appearance. Do that and you could continue the run.
Success doesn’t have to lead to failure. Consistent failure doesn’t mean success is on the horizon. Do not rely on luck. Rig the game.