Turning Odds of Failure into a Strategy for Success: A Young Girl’s Lessons

by Jeremy Tang

What if you couldn’t lose?

On our family trips to Japan my now 11 year old has a hobby of checking the coin returns on vending machines and skill testers. It started a few years ago when she tried it and she found 100 yen (equivalent to about AUD$1).

Fast forward and she does it religiously because she knows that eventually there will be a payoff, typically between $1 and as much as $5. Based on her accumulated stats she earns on average 35c for every time she checks. She knows that the more time she tries the more she makes eventually.

With this knowledge she’s undeterred by the misses and she keeps playing.

Watching her enthusiasm and systematic approach made me grateful that this experience has taught her a valuable lesson. In many ways, life’s various pursuits are similar to her coin slot checks.

We just need to look beyond the odds of failure or success and instead translate them into how many attempts do I need to succeed.

Success then becomes just a function of persistence.

It also means that we can’t lose unless we choose to.

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