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How to Hack Probability to Increase Your Chances of Success
Successful businessman adjusting his cuffs

How to Hack Probability to Increase Your Chances of Success

In Charles Duhigg’s Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, Duhigg details professional poker player Annie Duke‘s rise to success in the professional Poker circuit.


Professional poker players use a very specific set of skills and principles to win at the highest levels, explains Duhigg, all principles steeped in modern psychology.

But these principles aren’t just useful when playing a game of poker with friends, they’re useful throughout life no matter where your path is headed.

No one will argue that life is filled with chance: an uncertain future, lucky -- and unlucky -- moments where our world is turned upside down in a way we didn’t see coming.

“Making good decisions relies on forecasting the future, but forecasting is an imprecise, often terrifying, science because it forces us to confront how much we donʼt know. The paradox of learning how to make better decisions is that it requires developing a comfort with doubt,” Duhigg says.

Every moment brings infinite possibilities and the better we can learn to deal with this the better we can live and the more likely we are to realize success.

Every choice we make in life is an experiment.

– Charles Duhigg

Here are a few ways to hack probability to increase your chances of success.

Play the long game

Envision your work-life harmony, then build it

By playing the long game, I mean adopting a long-term vision. But as important as it is to have a long-term vision to plan and motivate you to realize a major goal, I mention it here more for how it changes your perspective now than what it does for you later.

Adopting a long-term vision keeps you from becoming distracted with the various flashing bells and whistles of the present. It creates in you a more accurate perspective of reality, one in which you’re not driven by immediate emotionally satisfying experiences and you understand the odds better -- and how to make the best use of your actions now to dictate your results.

Playing the long game also allows you to utilize the power of momentum because it shifts your perspective to building up currency in small actions now which adds up to create greater odds for success over time.

As Duhigg puts it, “Good decision making is contingent on a basic ability to envision what happens next.”

See and know that you’re playing the odds (and surrender to it)

“Learning to think probabilistically requires us to question our assumptions and live with uncertainty. To become better at predicting the future -- at making good decisions -- we need to know the difference between what we hope will happen and what is more and less likely to occur,” says Duhigg.

As much as it is scary to admit to yourself that you’re playing the odds in life, it can also be empowering. You’re no longer requiring some particular result, but rather, are okay with putting your best foot forward and letting the chips fall where they may.

The result can be that you actually work harder and perform better because you’ve removed the pressure that we typically place on ourselves to perform to realize a particular version of the future.

Craft your life to increase the odds are in your favor

Why Your Brand's Vision, Mission and Values Matter

Once you’ve adopted a more efficient long-term vision and changed your perspective to surrender to the odds of the game you’re playing, it’s all about increase.

That is, increasing the odds in your favor so that you have the greatest likelihood of realizing said goal or dream.

It sounds simple but, as I touched on earlier, the entire process allows you to let go of the baggage we tend to hold onto and just perform at your best.

But you still need to perform.

Here are typical ways you can increase the odds and place them in your favor no matter what your goal or dream is:

  • Absorb new knowledge about everything pertaining to your topic or relevant to accomplishing your goal
  • Develop new skills which are critical to you performing the primary functions of your goal
  • Acquire new connections which will help either improve your performance or potentially offer career or business advantages later on
  • Maximize your productivity, efficiency, and creativity
  • Track everything, iterate, and optimize

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