Are You Stacking the Odds?

Much of life requires taking actions, in which you only have a chance at success, and most of the time, the odds of success are unknown. Regularly I will “risk the odds” and I often experience success. This has caused me to ponder “why?” on many occasions. I have decided that stacking the odds in my favor, a skill I honed through playing games, is one of the keys to my success.

Role-playing games (RPGs) make this concept much more clear. Let’s use the action to attack an enemy. In most role-playing games there is an attack action that factors in your game characters attributes with some random factor, a dice role, for tabletop role-playing games. In my online RPG Rule the Seas if your strength is significantly greater than your opponent’s defense, and you attack first, you will win. A player can increase their strength or defense by equipping items, but you can only equip nine different types of items. Some items give more strength than defense, and others give more defense. If you want to damage players with greater defense you’ll need to focus on equipping strength items. By focusing on increasing the strength attribute you are stacking the odds in favor of you winning when you strike first. On the flip side you could focus on defense and hope to withstand your attacker through a longer fight. There are other attributes and abilities you can focus on with your equipment, you could also choose to equip the most visually attractive items, regardless of their combat abilities. To play well you must pick an equipment strategy and stack the odds in favor of winning with that strategy.

Stacking the odds in life also requires choosing a strategy. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that maintaining a healthy body shape is our strategy for increased happiness. There are many habits we can “equip” to increase our odds of getting and staying in shape: eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding added sugar, eating whole grains, eating balanced meals, weekly strength and aerobic training, walking 10,000 steps per day, limiting saturated fats, limiting carbs, and on and on…
Will any of these alone ensure a healthy shape? Will ten of them employed at the same time guarantee it? No, it is still possible to have unhealthy levels of body fat while doing many activities to avoid it.
The key is, each activity increases your odds of success.

There is a famous scene in Star Wars, where Han Solo says “Never Tell Me The Odds!”

We don’t actually need to know the odds to stack the odds, we only need to know if the actions we are taking align with our strategy and increase the odds of success. For example, developing a great marriage or relationships with my parents or children, these are not strategies where I need to know the odds of success.

I have learned that being persistent is a key part of this concept. When we refuse to give up, keep stacking the odds, and keep rolling the dice, we will experience success again and again (and eventually conquer our enemies and shed those fat pounds!).

Role-playing games not only provide an example of how to “Stack the Odds”, they also function as an excellent way to practice. Do you have a favorite RPG and are you learning to stack the odds?

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