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Beating the Odds

How to Win at Everything You Do

You’ve heard a lot of people tell you that if you work hard, you will be successful.

And that is true. Kind of.

Maybe you’ve asked yourself, “What if I do all this work and I still don’t win?”

Fair question.

There are real situations where two people work very hard toward a goal, compete as well as they can, and then find themselves as the two finalists for something they want. This happened last night in the National Hockey League, where the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings played into sudden death overtime in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series.

Only one of them can win, right?

Kind of.

Let’s explain. First of all, losing need not be final. Losing can be the start of something great if you can step back, look at how you prepared and try again. This is where you choose to be a learner, not a loser.

If you lose at a game of checkers, go stomping off and swear never to play checkers again, you’ve lost. If you look at the board, ask yourself where things went wrong, and then try again, you’re a learner. Or a winner.

Second, if you’re looking for guarantees about anything, forget it. That’s not how life works. There is no magic formula that says if you put in a certain number of hours, you will get some kind of prize.

It’s true that if you put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, you will gain world-class skill. But how you use that skill is up to you.

Finally, there is this reality. If you work and work, but don’t win the gold medal today, you still will have much more skill than if you never tried at all. And again, what you do with that skill is up to you.

If you work only to win the prize, you will lose more often than you win. But if you work for the joy of the journey, you will win at everything you do.


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