26 Jun

What if every little opportunity in your life were a bet in your favor? What if every measured risk you take means that you're setting yourself up to come out ahead? What if we could prove that to you--with science?

We can.

This video--especially as presented by this fantastic teacher--breaks it down. You probably think it's going to be about (yawn) statistics, but it's not--it's about why you're not willing to take a bet you are definitely going to win. (It gets cooking at about 04:50, if you're low on time.)

This math works whether you're taking Derek's cash bet on the street or approaching the idea of taking a risk in your personal life--like approaching the cute guy who always takes the table next to you at the coffee shop, or asking for that raise...or, of course, going for your first tandem skydive. In actual fact, every time you say "yes," you're placing a bet that's in your favor, and every time you say no--every time you fail to rise to the risk--you're placing a bet against yourself.

To contextualize this further, watch the inimitable Tim Ferris give a rousing Ted Talk about why you should sit down and make a very thorough, very imaginative list of all the things you're afraid of. Tim addresses, in the relatable, salty way for which he is so beloved, the "cost of inaction;" the "atrocious cost of the status quo; of not changing anything."

"If I avoid this action or decision and actions and decisions like it," Tim asks, "What might my life look like in, say, six months, twelve months, three years?"


At this point, you know the facts. You know that skydiving is safer than commuting to work. You know that the risks of skydiving balance decidedly on the positive side. You also know that skydiving can be incredibly good for you; that there are even therapeutic benefits to skydiving. You also know that skydiving is scary and that it will require an effort on your part.

If you, in Tim Ferris's words, "avoid the action" because of the friction you anticipate, what does that mean for you? Really?

Might it mean that you continue to habitually dodge other managed risks? That you consistently prioritize your idea of safety over the potential of optimization? (Spoiler: "Safety" is not actually safe. You're just imagining a positive outcome.) That you complete your hustle from the cradle to the grave with your head down?

We think you're better than that. We think you're going to take the bet. We think you're going to calculate the cost of inaction and put your money on you. And we hope we'll be there to celebrate when life's one-armed bandit machine starts gushing a river of solid gold at your feet!

woman smiles after landing from skydive at Jumptown