Own My Growth

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Increase The Probability Of Success

Probability of success

During my weekend reading, I came across this interesting post by Ben Shapiro that presents a fascinating thesis about increasing the odds of success in our lives.

Stephen Shapiro’s thesis is this.

You can mathematically increase the likelihood of your success when you are not obsessed with specific goals or approaches to achieving those goals.

Now how does he wed the idea of probability and mathematics with the idea of success? He does that by bringing in an interesting mathematical metaphor.

Imagine there is a room of people…..…

  • For there to be a 50% chance that two people have the same birthday – any birthday(matching day and month), you need only 23 people in the room (mathematically, based on probability theory).
  • However, for there to be a 50% chance that two people have a specific (e.g., April 25) birthday, you need over 600 people in the room.

The critical point being made through this mathematical example is that the likelihood of ANY event happening is relatively high (e.g., any birthday). In contrast, the likelihood of a PARTICULAR event (e.g., a specific birthday) happening is relatively low.  

Ben Shapiro uses this example to give us an insight into how we can improve our odds of success.

In our day-to-day lives, if we are all wedded to the idea of things working out in a particular way, it requires many events coming together in a specific way—just like looking for a particular birthday.

On the other hand, keeping an open mind and being open to broad outcomes instead of specific outcomes increases the probability of success.

E.g., You want to gain admission into a specific ivy league college for a particular undergraduate degree vs. You want to gain entry into any of the top 20 Ivy League colleges…Naturally, the odds of your success will improve.

Could the same wisdom be applied to other areas of our work lives where we may be aiming for specific outcomes that are statistically less likely to happen? 

  • I want a particular revenue milestone to be achieved by a specific date.
  • I pin all my hopes on one specific plan to assure me of success. 
  • My revenue goals are dependent on a particular client I need to land. 

The more specific you are, mathematically speaking, the less likely you will find hidden opportunities that may look different from your expectations. Likewise, the more focused you are on a specific outcome, the less likely it will be that you will exhibit the “peripheral vision” necessary to stumble across that chance opportunity, thereby increasing your probability of success.

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