Picking Winners

March Madness. Fantasy Football. Fantasy Baseball. Fantasy Basketball.

They are all systems of picking winners. Picking winners based on statistics and biases developed by the “experts” who spend a bunch of time with the statistics and biases that we all have access to.

They then use those numbers to quantify a player or team’s value summed up in a number of points they might profit your team or bracket as you play against another team. This is purely speculative based on people’s opinions and how high or low profile the given team or player is.

When choosing a player or team for any given matchup, we choose based on our own hopes and dreams of what we hope the player will do. We choose based on our own biases. We choose because we think based on the commentary we like from the “experts” we agree with.

We choose not because we have any hard and fast data. We choose because we are hopeful.

We choose because we are biased to like our own opinion and listen to the people we agree with most.

Unfortunately, this is also how we choose our political views, financial views, family views, and spiritual views. We find the thing that sounds the best coming from an expert and go along with it. We do not spend the time challenging the assumptions and research made by the “experts” we agree with.

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What “experts” are you listening to? What does the other side say about your “expert”? When was the last time you reviewed your values and beliefs based on what the expert thinks and believes? Who are the experts in your life helping you along?

BONUS EXERCISE: Take a minute with one of your values or beliefs and assume that you are wrong. Now look up some articles proving you are wrong. What do they say? What valid points do they make? How can you improve yourself using one of these valid points?

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Death & Taxes

Two guarantees in life.

Death & Taxes

Unless you are Santa Claus.

I mean, I have not heard of Santa’s elves filling out any 1099’s for their consulting. Filing any injury reports for elves who hurt themselves on the job. Or maybe there is an underperforming elf and, the organization decides to make a change and performance manage the poor little elf into a new life role outside of the Santa’s Workshop™.

What would you tax him on? Assuming he does not have an income and his toys are made from naturally occurring products at the North Pole, do we tax him on his gift output and assume he is interrupting the market because he is providing a free service on products that other companies charge for?

Or is Santa financed by playing the market and we should tax the capital gains of his investment portfolio and he uses the proceeds from his investment portfolio to finance Santa’s Workshop™.

How about death? Does Santa live forever?

This is a thought experiment, applying the mundane to the fantasy. What else can you experiment with today?

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Trying

We cannot know if something is going to work until someone tries it. You don’t have to be the one to try something, but someone has to be the first one to try it. And if is going to work, then why not it be you.

Odds are, whatever it is you are going to try has a pretty low cost in the grand scheme of things, the worst thing that can happen is either your boss or your community will say, ‘No.’ But even if they go that route, they will be nice about it. They are with you for a reason and they want you to succeed and in saying no, they are freeing you up to try something else.

And, if you really do believe in what you’re trying to do, then their no’s won’t stop you, it will deter you closer to a route that will work in the long run.

I know I usually get hung up in the exceptions and the excuses. They slow me down and I buy into them without ever trying a thing.

What is stopping you? What is the next step taking you closer to giving it a try?

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Herky–Jerky

I was reflecting on learning to drive the other day and it was so vivid. Sitting in the big white suburban, we had at the time, in the evening after dusk. Slowly getting buckled into the driver seat. Not for the first time. I had buckled myself into this seat plenty of times. However, never before did I have the keys in hand, mother in the passenger seat, and any intention of driving anywhere.

So I started it up, pressed my foot deep into the brake, shifted into ‘Drive’ and exchanged the brake for gas.

Then immediately SLAMMED back on the brake. Heart pumping. Hands shaking.
And again, exchanged the brake for the gas, was surprised by forward momentum and hopped back on the brake. After a few more exchanges like this I became accustomed to the feeling of initiating acceleration. Within twenty minutes, I felt like a pro.

According to the movies, most everyone’s first driving experience is something like this. Jerky-Jerky where the surprise of initiating acceleration is jolting enough to bring the whole operation to an immediate stop. And eventually, I learned the degrees of separation between where I tilt my foot for 10 miles an hour versus 20 miles an hour versus 30 miles an hour.

How much different is learning anything in life? I try something new, a reaction occurs, and I slam the brakes on the reaction. Examine the reaction, process the net result, assess how to do it again, and try again.

Since then, I have had an innumerable quantity of successful drives with no significant details to be reported. I have also had a few opportunities to interface with local authorities on behalf of my bad driving. And there has been a couple times my experience as a driver has kept me alive as I was dodging pets, wildlife, and navigating icy terrain.

Ultimately, learning to play an instrument or teaching myself any skill worthwhile will have many of these same moments. When I do it right, nothing of note, simply continuing to do it right and hone my skill. When I do it wrong someone will point out my error and I will learn from my mistake and potentially pay a price, preferably not too high. And there will even be a few times my experience will save me from crashing and burning.

Learning something new will have these moments of doing it right and doing it wrong. I will never experience any of successes or failures if I do not get past the herky–jerky of it all. Getting past the first few times will pave the way for a million times more.

Is there something new you are trying to work through? What is the uncomfortable herky–jerky of what you are doing? What is the next step to get through the herky–jerky for you?

Herky–Jerky,

–JT