Beating the Odds: Winning in Life When You Are Expected to Lose

October 13, 2016
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If I had played by the rules, listened to the oddsmakers in my life, and folded my hand when everyone said I was going to lose, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. If I had listened to all the people who said that there was no way I could accomplish what I wanted to accomplish because of my upbringing or my personality or my failures and faults and mistakes, I would be face down in a gutter, or face up in a casket. But I am not, and you know why?

Because despite the fact that the odds have always been stacked against me, I have always found a way to win. Despite the early and frequent hardship that was my life growing up and the occasional disaster I make of it now, I always find a way to get done what needs to get done in order to be the person I want to be and to get the things out of life that I want to get. No matter what the odds are.

How I grew up, the force and pain and loss and viciousness of it, that sticks with you for a long time and it changes the odds for you in everything you do. You carry the weight of a fucked up past everywhere you go and you pull it out often – as an excuse to why you can’t get what you want out of life or as a sympathy card played to give you a reason for your failures or your faults. And people usually accept it. They let you get away with it most times, because a hard life does bring sympathy, but it shouldn’t. A hard life should bring you strength of character and recognition of your progress to get as far as you did, despite the odds against you. It’s not a crutch. It’s a badge of honor.

Recognize that the odds are stacked against you.

Maybe you stacked the odds against yourself through your shitty excuses or your miserable lifestyle choices. Maybe you hit a random patch of terrible circumstances and the odds shifted against you out of pure chance. Whatever the reason, recognize that you are not going to find an easy way towards the life you want and now is the time to go big and bet everything you have on yourself.

Yes. You are now going to have to work harder than most people. You are going to have to get up earlier. You are going to have to put in more time on the hard shit and sacrifice some of the fun shit. You are going to have to cut some things out of your life you really don’t want to be without and you are going to have to introduce some things into your life you really don’t want to introduce, but it is the only way that you are going to change your chances, and that should be all that matters.

Embrace your story.

The stories that people want to hear about others – the stories that keep us on the edge of our seat and that matter and motivate and influence – those stories always have a main character that has the odds stacked against them. Where everything seems so overwhelmingly against them that you are not sure they can come out on top at the end. These are the stories of everyday men and women who came from less than nothing to create empires. Peopl who were beset on all sides by countless complications that should have had them lose time and time again, but they still found a way to win.

Those stories move us because they reflect us. We want to succeed in the same way as the characters in those stories – despite the odds. Those are the stories that we repeat over and over as lessons on how to be successful in life – about how to change the odds no matter how skewed against you they are. Those are the stories that people want to hear.

And that is your story if you do it right. A story of how everything was stacked against you and you still managed to come out the winner.

How do you change the odds?

You start by finding a reason, a way, a method, that works for you to re-stack the deck and get what you want. You don’t make excuses. You don’t complain about the shitty hand you were dealt. You don’t whine when someone else gets what you want. You focus on your own odds and you do what is necessary to change them.

You do the hard work. Practice the discipline. Put in the time. Because you change the odds of success in your life by changing yourself. Just like in sports betting, you change the odds by betting so much on yourself that the bookmakers have no choice but to hedge their bets in your favor because everything suggests that you know something they don’t know. And you do. You know that you are fucking relentless and you have faced worse odds before and came out on top.

So you do the work that makes you better. You get up earlier. You sleep less. You read more. You work out harder.You spend time with people who uplift you – people who are also betting on you. You never stop caring and loving and you never, ever give up on yourself. You don’t fuck around with friends or people or situations that don’t serve your purpose and you stop blaming your situation on your past, or your genetics, or your situation or luck. 

What about luck?

Luck is manufactured. You have to generate it yourself. We are so quick to say we can’t succeed because we have no luck. We say that so-and-so got to where they are because they got lucky. They were born at the right time, in the right place, to the right people. They had all the chances and I had none. That is bullshit.

Yes, luck is mostly about being in the right place at the right time with the right people. But that means consistently being in the right place at the right time with the right people. So look around your life right now. Are you in the right place? Is this the right time? Are you with the right people? If you are not, then how the fuck are you going to be in a position for luck to find you?

You need to go find out where your luck is hiding. You need to put yourself into the right situations at the right time with the right people to have a chance to get lucky because that is what it boils down to – giving yourself a chance to be lucky. But that chance comes through hard work.

You don’t see all the hard work, sleepless nights and discipline it takes for so many people to get “lucky”. All you see is the payoff and then you throw up your hands and curse your bad luck because you can’t get the same breaks. In most cases, those breaks weren’t given, they were created. So go create your own luck by putting yourself in the right position to grab it.

What are your odds?

There are a lot of people who are going to try to get between you and your dreams. Your friends. Your teachers. Your family. Random strangers. A lot of people are going to tell you that whatever you are going for in life right now is not within your reach. Whatever you want out of life is not for you because you got dealt a shit hand and you have to accept the cards that you are given. Well lucky for you no one gets to decide where you place your bets in life and you have the opportunity to bet on yourself every time – no matter what your cards are or what the odds are.

Those people who are trying to convince you that you are going to fail have already folded their hands and aren’t in the game anymore, so stop listening to their advice and listen to some advice from a gambler who is still playing the shitty cards he was dealt and occasionally winning a hand or two.

People like me, like a lot of us, we are not expected to succeed. People who come from troubled pasts, who were born into hard situations, who have suffered more than most people should. People who have failed so often and fucked up their life so many times that all that’s left is burned bridges and salted fields – we are not expected to succeed. Because people see the messes we were given, or have made in our lives, and they think that no one can come back from that because they can’t imagine coming back from it.

Well, some people can come back from it. Those of us who have always been counted out. Those of us who are used to having our backs against the wall and nowhere else to go but claw our way forward. Those of us who don’t care what the odds are, as long as we are in the game. Those of us that wear our scars like badges and who have never turned away from the occasionally dirty, disgusting work of living. People like us can take a mistake, can take a beating, can take anything that comes into our lives and turn it to our favor.

And because of that, I am going to buck the odds every time and go for whatever I want in life. I am going to ignore the doubters and the haters and the naysayers and I am going to prove to everyone that has ever waited for me to fail, including myself, that even with the odds stacked against me, there is always a chance. And I will bet on myself and take that chance every time. Win or lose, at least I played my hand.

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