Beating the Odds

What are the odds that you’ll succeed in your goals?

10-1? 50-1? 100-1? 1,000-1??

Which is it for you?

All those answers are wrong, and this week I’d like to explain why, and give you your correct answer. That’s right, I’m going to tell you what the odds are of you making it. I think the answer will surprise you...

Older readers may recall the winter Olympics of 1980 in Lake Placid, and the famous gold medal victory of the USA ice hockey team, coached by Herb Brooks. They overcame dramatic odds. At this time, the Soviet hockey team (known as “The Red Machine”) was the far and away favourite to win. They had always won, they seemed unbeatable, and 1980 looked to be no different, especially after they’d thrashed an NHL all-star team in a warm-up exhibition match. The spectre of growing communist power in the world hung over every victory of theirs.

Team USA coach, Herb Brooks, approached the problem in an unorthodox way. He appreciated that to keep doing things the same way and expecting different results is pure stupidity. He understood that hockey is a team sport, and that all-star line-ups were a bunch of individuals. It’s actually the fastest team sport in the world- your mind has to be a second ahead of the play at all times unless you want to be knocked on your ass, and that means anticipating your teammate’s every move, you need to be a unit.

So he formed a team of young college kids he had figured would work as a cohesive unit. Young guys who could skate hard for three periods and keep up with the Russians. Kids he could shape to play a different style, the European style, to beat the ever-dominating European teams in the event. (The European rinks are generally larger and are more about skating hard and physical fitness than the north American counterparts).

He was berated for this approach by American commentators and ‘experts’, but the results spoke for themselves, and they faced the Soviets in the semi-final. Even then, nobody expected USA to win, the Soviets looked that strong. The odds were against them. In the dressing room before the game, Herb Brooks made a speech to his young players…

He knew that his players knew the odds were against them. 10-1 seemed to be the expert consensus. He didn’t try to deny these odds with positive thinking and invent his own version of reality for them, he acknowledged the 10-1 odds against them. But then he said, “Yes, if we played this team ten times, we would lose nine of those games. But tonight is NOT one of those nine games. Tonight is that one game that we win.” They beat the Soviets and then beat Finland in the final (go rent the movie about this: “Miracle”.)

In short, Brooks made his players ignore the odds. And so should you.

If I’d have listened to the odds in my life, and to people warning me that the odds were against me succeeding, I’d never have got anywhere. In time I developed an answer for people who’d warn me about the “average chance of success”. It was this: “Averages are for average efforts. Most people only put in average effort.”

So that’s what it comes down to, my friend. Averages are a measure of what MOST PEOPLE do. So it’s really a question of if you’re prepared to do more than ‘most people’, if you’re prepared to choose to MAKE yourself a special case.

Did you ever play Blackjack? If so, you may know that there’s really only one way to beat the dealer, and you’d better have an iron nerve if you want to do it. I won’t go into too much detail, but winning at Blackjack revolves around a very simple premise based on odds. In a deck of cards, the majority of them are picture cards, right? And in Blackjack, they are worth 10. So the system is based on the fact that the odds of the next card the dealer gives you is worth 10. So on this occasion you’re playing the odds, you’re believing in the odds. And those odds can quickly wipe you out! Just try it if you don’t believe me. Odds cut both ways.

Do you always check the weather? Did you know that weather forecasts are WRONG sixty percent of the time (3-2 odds against being right)?

The odds shouldn’t bother you, and yet we seem to fixate on them when it comes to getting what we want in our irreplaceable lives.

And doesn’t everyone want to make it? I mean, you’re crowded out by ‘competition’… you’ll get killed in the stampede, won’t you?

No, you won’t, and here’s why…

Because most people will only put in an average effort to achieve this goal. In fact, they’ll be downright half-arsed about it, most of them putting faith in a lottery ticket. This is the case by definition, not my opinion, as that’s what creates averages or odds, right? And here’s what I mean by average effort by most people:


  1. They are confused and uneducated about financial matters.
  2. They are negative thinkers with low self-esteem.
  3. Their business ideas are lousy. Bad location, no market, bad service/product.
  4. They have no clue about running a business (because they never bothered to find out).
  5. They lack discipline and patience. They take unnecessary risks.
  6. They don’t understand cash flow, assets, liabilities, royalties, systemisation.
  7. They are emotional.
  8. They don’t reinvest what profits they make in property. They blow it instead.

The list goes on forever. Herb Brooks’s boys didn’t beat the odds by fluke, they beat the odds because they put in an above average effort. The bookies aren’t fortune-tellers, and they’re often wrong.

So let me ask you that question again: “What are the odds you’ll become successful?”

The next time someone tries to tell you the odds against you achieving your goal, put yourself in that dressing room in 1980 and hear Coach Herb Brooks tell you:

“Not tonight.”


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