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Pillar #2 of Awesome Risk-Taking: Forget About the Odds

This is pillar #2 of a 5 pillar series that I’m writing for adventurous risk-takers looking to change their lives by taking more chances.

Anyone can do something crazy, but it takes a little more finesse to do it great and the steps aren’t as well known as you might think.

Be sure to sign up for free updates to keep up with the lessons and get some unpopular but very effective knowledge about turning your scary ideas into reality.

Forget About the Odds

Odds are a funny thing. No matter what risk you’re taking or what game you’re playing, you always want to know the odds. How likely are you to actually win? It gives us some kind of comfort to know what we’re up against.

When I decide to challenge myself to something, I like to know how many people have succeeded before me.

Amateur gamblers prefer to stick to the blackjack table because they’re more likely to win with fewer skills.

This is a dangerous mindset to keep if you ever want to do something truly meaningful. The problem is that when you get the idea to do something remarkable and take a big risk, you’ll have a hard time finding a lot of previous success stories.

Why? Because most people with remarkable ideas never follow through with them. They’re too busy studying the odds when they ought to be figuring out how to execute. They don’t find the answers they’re looking for, get distracted, and move on to the next thing.

If you ever want to get your idea off the ground, you’re probably going to have to accept that the odds are against you.

That’s just kind of how it is. The better your idea is the worse the odds are that you’ll succeed. Once you come to terms with this, you can get on to doing awesome stuff.

Note: On the other hand, if you can look at your idea and see an obvious path to success with great odds, it’s probably not actually that interesting and it will be tough to find a lot of meaning in it.


That brings us to another point that shouldn’t be missed – authenticity. It’s a critical prerequisite for awesome risk-taking.

To get the full benefit, and if you want your idea to succeed at all, not only does it have to be unique, but uniquely you.

Every great idea is inspired by another, but every one also offers it’s own value to the world.

How about a few examples:

  • The internet was already growing and search engines had already been created, but Google changed the game.
  • Coffee shops had been around forever when Starbucks changed how people think about them.
  • Starbucks was already an empire when Stumptown Roasters set up a little shop in Portland, OR and changed how people there thought about coffee.

Great ideas come from other peoples’ great ideas and successes, but they also come with a flare of originality, of authenticity. And that can’t be replicated. The great idea you want to take a risk on shouldn’t exist in a vacuum, but it should come with a healthy dose of your own perspective.

Great risks can’t be replicated and that’s what makes them great. The circumstances are different every time and what worked before can’t work exactly the same again. Inspired artists succeed. Copy-cats fail. In fact, you’re odds of succeeding decline significantly the closer your idea gets to someone else’s.

That’s why the McDonald’s down the road has had 3 owners in the last 18 months, but the same family has run their Chinese takeout business across the street for 20 years.

There’s no way to accurately calculate the odds when you’re doing something unique and new. Even if there was, you wouldn’t like them.

The best option is to forget about them and spend more time worrying about how you’re going to bounce back when the first wave of extreme difficulty comes – the spot where everyone before you called it quits.

Actually, its not just the best option, it’s the only one. Anything else is self sabotage.

Are you worrying about the odds or worrying about how you’ll beat them?


Comment moderation may be a bit slow today as I’m headed out of town to Mt. St. Helens in SW Washington to climb my very first mountain. I’ll have a report on that for you on Thursday. In the meantime, I’ll be checking in when I can.