Beating The Odds

Beating The Odds

December 21, 2018

The odds are depressing.

If you dream of going pro, it doesn’t look good.

If you’re a football player, the chance of playing in the NFL is less than 1% (.08).

If you’re a basketball player, the chance of playing in the NBA is also less than 1% (.03).

If you’re a tennis player, the chance is one in a thousand (.01).

So I guess the smart move is to get an “education” and spend the rest of our lives owing $350,000 of student debt.


Back to turning pro.

Having a less than 1% chance of turning pro seems daunting, if not impossible. It’s silly to even dream those dreams when almost no one makes it.

But what if we look at it another way?

What if we look at how many people actually try?

In any given class of say, 100, how many people actually do the work?

How many people show up every day AND show up on time AND take all the notes AND never look at their phones during class AND do all the practice problems AND ask thoughtful questions AND don’t make excuses on why they’re bad test-takers?

82 and 74 and 53 and 22 and 11 and 5 and…2? Maybe?

In any given class, maybe 2 do everything they’re supposed to do. Guess what? That’s only 2%.

The odds of learning a simple lesson in a typical class is about the same as the odds of turning pro.

How many athletes show up every day on time, listen to the coaches, stay off their phones, do the drills the proper way, ask good questions, and don’t make excuses?

Here’s a real-life example.

In my tennis teaching career, I worked with about 200 athletes. Five of them truly wanted to turn pro (make money for playing tennis).

Do you know how many of them actually made it to the pro tour?


60% of the committed athletes I coached turned pro. And the two who didn’t make it were well on their way before getting injured.

Without injuries, it might have been 100%.

Nonetheless, 60% is higher than 0.08%.

Would you try something if the odds of success were 60%?

The problem with turning pro is not that the odds are stacked against us.

The problem is that almost no one tries.

For the committed person, the odds of turning pro are completely on your side.

For the uncommitted, playing the lottery might be the better choice.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.