Life is Probabilistic: Here is How to Improve Your Odds

We live in an uncertain world, nothing related to human behavior is certain.  Ironically, although we all seem to dread uncertainty  because it generates safety or comfort concerns, it is what is necessary for us to develop into who we want to be.  Besides, although we say people hate change, it is what people voluntarily choose on. a regular basis.  We choose to get married, go to school, get a job, change jobs, have kids etc. and these are all major changes we choose.

I often talk with my students about professional development.  I explain to them once they leave school, something they think they want, professional development is their responsibility.  After school, they will no longer get a syllabus each semester with an agenda about where to focus and what to learn.  After graduation they have to create their own plan.  I also emphasize that continuing to learn is not an option, it is a necessity due to the rate of information and knowledge expansion in today’s society.  The Human Capital Trends Report for 2014 by Deloitte Consulting and Bersin found “…knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half life of 2.5-5 years…” which confirms the need for constant development. (Chism, 2015)


Uncertainty is a part of life and people often choose to avoid uncertainty because it is the safest and is where people say they feel most comfortable.  Choosing this path, the one without uncertainty, also means there is little or no chance for growth and development.  This relates to school and class syllabi.  When students enter the class the plan for the class is outlined in the syllabus and this plan should push the student beyond what they know or their state current state of certainty.  If a class does not do this, it is unlikely they will learn anything new.

If new information is reframed or understood as confirmation of what is previously understood, nothing new can be learned.  It is for this reason, it is suggested we embrace uncertainty so new ways can be developed.  New ways are needed because as Nate Silver describes in “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail  – but some don’t“, we live in a probabilistic world.  To improve our odds, we must find better ways.

How we choose to live our lives, our daily actions, represents how we attempt to make our prediction come true.  The prediction is how we see our future in our minds eye.  We can make accomplishment more likely, increase our chances of having the life we want if we understand desired outcomes are probabilistic. By probabilistic Silver explains that this means there is a percentage or probability an outcome will happen.  He also emphasizes that because of inherent uncertainty, that probability is never 100%.

Silver suggests we should understand that probability is an estimation.  If we embrace our predictions as uncertain, such as the prediction of the future we experience in our lives, we can continually improve that probability by adjusting our behaviors as we learn more.  Each day we learn more about ourselves and others.  As we learn more we should keep adjusting our actions, build new connections,  and increase our knowledge so that the probability or the likelihood of our predicted outcome has better odds.  Nate Silver says adjusting our probability of an event happening is using Baysian Thinking and is the best way to have an accurate prediction.

To help us better understand this idea, he uses each statement below to show how each successive statement provides a better picture of reality by incorporating more about what is learned.

From “The Signal and the Noise”

…Consider the following set of seven statements, which are related to the idea of the efficient market hypothesis and whether an individual investor can beat the stock market.  Each statement is an approximation, but each builds on the last one to become slightly more accurate.

  1. No investor can beat the stock market.
  2. No investor can beat the stock market over the long run.
  3. No investor can beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk.
  4. No investor can beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk and accounting for transaction costs.
  5. No investor can beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk and accounting for transaction costs, unless he has inside information.
  6. Few investors beat the stock market over the long run relative to his level of risk and accounting for transaction costs, unless he has inside information.
  7. It is hard to tell how many investors beat the stock market over the long run, because the data is very noisy, but we know that most cannot relative their level of risk, since trading produces no net excess return but entails transaction costs, so unless you have inside information, you are probably better off investing in an index fund.

To use this to make your life better then, it is recommended that you keep updating your plans to generate comprehensive improvements by learning how you can better create pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Therefore, the best way to improve your odds is to keep learning more as we also embrace uncertain times.  Read, learn, and continuously challenge your thoughts so you get information about how to improve your ideas by knowing how to update your plans.

Remember, as you work to create a better world for everyone and everything, we all thank you for your efforts.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

If you want to contact me:




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