You Can’t Lose

How would you like to never lose again?

All it takes is a paradigm shift in your thinking. When you attempt something, the outcomes aren’t success or failure. It’s not win or lose. It’s win or learn.

Learning is a lot less automatic than we hope it is. Experience is the greatest teacher, but we also have to mentally show up to those lessons. You can hit the same brick wall hundreds of times if you never stop to think about what’s happening.

But if you do think about it, you can change the rules. You can define outcomes as only being one or the other: You win, or you get better.

Imagine a new game at the casino. Fairly simple rules. You can bet a dollar on a machine with exactly 50/50 chances to win or lose. If you win, you win your bet back plus 1% – so you’d be up $.01 if you won. If you lose, you lose your bet, but the percentage you gain if you win goes up by 1 point. So you’d lose a dollar, but now you’re at 2% if you win next time. Lose again, and it’s 3%. And so on.

Do you see the way to win? The most you’d have to lose is $100 bucks before you’re at even odds. And after that it’s all gravy – the odds would be in your favor after that point, because you’d be betting a dollar if you lose against gaining an extra $1.01 or more if you won.

That can be your life! As you learn something new, early struggles may feel costly in lost time or discouragement. But that’s only the early setbacks. Those early days are also the days where you can gain the most knowledge the quickest, so if you push on, you can rapidly find out that you’ve leveraged those setbacks into huge future gains.

I’m going to tell an embarrassing story. When I was a teenager, I got scammed. The details of the scam aren’t super important, but I basically gave some money away online because I thought I was buying something of value that turned out not to exist. I lost about $180. Not a huge amount now, but to teenage Johnny it was a decent chunk of change. Despite my embarrassment, I told my dad about it, how I’d been scammed and had little recourse. I wanted to see if he had any tricks on how I might get that money back.

His advice was profound. He explained that in the time I might spend trying to get that $180 back, I could easily make that much again – or more, by doing more productive things. And I shouldn’t consider the $180 a loss in any case; I should consider it a payment to the universe for incredible knowledge. That’s a small price to pay to learn a LOT about how to spot scams and not get taken again in the future, considering that Future Johnny would have way more money. True enough, I’ve not only avoided ever being scammed again, but I’ve saved a few other people from similar schemes that I spotted when they didn’t see the warning signs.

I didn’t lose. I learned.

Back to that hypothetical casino game – if you gave it any thought when I presented it to you, you probably realized that it was very lucrative in the long term. Some people, however, don’t think in the long term, and in the short term that game seems horrible. The first roll of the dice you’re betting a dollar against a penny, a terrible deal. In the same way slaving over a deep fryer for minimum wage can seem like a bad deal, or doing some design work for free, or anything like that. Just like the casino game though, it’s a great deal – if you’re willing to put in the work and time.

And most importantly, change your thinking. Win or learn. You can’t lose.

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