Odds are…

An image on the news last night got me thinking.  In Nevada, hundreds of people stood in lines several blocks long waiting patiently for the chance to buy a ticket for the 355 million dollar Mega Bucks lottery game. Apparently this was a snapshot of similar scenes around the country.  $355 million.  Wow.  Just some time in line and a few bucks and then…. Dreamland!  Odds = 1: 176 million.  Eh….

“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands

but in seeing with new eyes.”  – Marcel Proust

Years ago while on an escape from Ohio to a week of hiking in the Smokies, I stopped for gas in a tiny town in West Virginia.  After filling up I went into the small shop to pay.  Inside I was welcomed by a large lottery display and a polite young cashier.  I rarely buy lottery tickets but, heck, I was on vacation so I asked the cashier for 5 bucks worth.

“Wow,” I said, “190 million bucks if I win.  Yeah, but what are the odds?  A zillion to one?”  Without hesitation, and in slow southern cadence, the 18-or-so year old replied, “Well, ma’am, the way I see it, you got a 50/50 chance.  You either win… or you lose.”

I have never forgotten that conversation.

Yeah, entrepreneurs, parents, homeowners, business leaders… I suppose all of us… have a finite set of resources and we likely spend a chunk of time every day calculating risk, ROI, etc.  “Should I invest in this? Spend time, money, energy on that?  What if I lose?  What do I get?…”  Sound familiar?

No offense to my friends who embrace risk management, spreadsheets, decision trees and the like… but it is simple really.  We have a 50/50 chance.  We either win or we lose.  We either make it happen or we don’t.

Maybe if we looked at possibilities around us and saw a 50/50 chance of success we would leap boldly more often.  Imagine what is possible if we did.

Well… we either will… or we won’t.  It’s that simple.

5 Responses to “Odds are…”

  1. . Judith Delaney Says:

    Thank you as always! This is a jolt of reality for me as I plan my goals for this year.

  2. Jim Snyder Says:

    Thanks Sue. I love the 50/50 perspective. I believe that all folks have a risk tolerance for life, and that is may be far beyond what they currently feel, or allow themselves to accept – myself included.

    On the flip of a coin, would you bet $1 to make $5?
    Would you bet $10 to make $50?
    $100 to make $500?
    $1000 to make $5000?

    At some point we all stop short of betting our life savings to quadruple it. However, the odds are rarely that punitive in life. I’m playing the 50/50 odds with my team more often! Thanks.

  3. Chris Sheesley Says:

    I love it! What a great way to look at life. It reminds me of the card I carried around in my wallet during my single years to overcome intorversion. It read, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

  4. ray Says:

    really like this one… nice shift in the speed bump — in the end, you either do or you don’t. in the clasic words from a little green guy: do or do not, there is no try.

    love it!

    //ray

  5. Kaspar Murer Says:

    50/50 chance! I love it, and very timely advice :-)

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