How to Increase the Odds of Getting Anything You Want

by Mr. Cheap

In class one time a woman was complaining about how hard it is to recruit participants for her experiment. The professor told her that she just had to approach people who fit the profile she was looking for and ask them. She was clearly uncomfortable with this idea and protested “what if they say no?”.

I couldn’t help myself, so I made the observation that this would give the women in the class insight into what men go through when we’re asking women out on dates. Its an old chestnut, but I think there’s real value in the idea “half of life is showing up”.

Literally related to dating, I truly believe its a numbers game. I think anyone who is unhappily single just needs to go on more dates, and keep going on them until you click with someone. The love of your life isn’t going to break into your apartment to find you! Dating can be exhausting, but its part of the process. A women I worked with met her future husband when they were both waiting in cars for their friends outside a 7-11. He started chatting her up, got her phone number, and years later she was working with me, married to him and had two kids. He decided it was worth taking a chance on talking to the woman in the next car and it paid off for him big time.

The brother of a former professor of mine went to MIT. I asked him if his brother had astronomically high marks, and found out that he didn’t, he’d just gone down to Boston to visit some friends, got talking to people in the media lab, and they liked him well enough that they encouraged him to apply and fast tracked his application.

When I describe my brother’s job, people are amazed (some people have even asked if he won a contest to get the job :-) ). When there was an opening, a friend told him about it, he applied and he got it. Similarly I was on a reality TV show / documentary years ago. I enjoyed watching the show, so I applied for the next season and got on it (I joke with people that I’m the most minor celebrity in the world – I’ve been recognized by strangers a total of 3 times).

In the 4 Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss relates giving a talk to a group and offering a deluxe vacation to whoever could connect with the most famous person (all they had to do was get a personal note or e-mail back from them). He wanted to prove the point that if you just make overtures to people, sometimes they’ll respond. Ironically, he didn’t give out the prize because NO ONE applied! Supposedly tons of scholarships aren’t awarded every year because no one applied: everyone assumes they won’t be competitive, and take themselves out of the race before it starts.

I’m certainly not saying that all you have to do is desire something and you’ll get it (talk to “The Secret” nuts for that perspective). We all have desires that we don’t do anything about, and often the hardest part is doing ANYTHING to move us in the direction of achieving it.

Think about the things you’d like out of life, and consider if there’s something you could do in 1 hour that might (no matter how improbably) help you achieve it. Give it a try this week and see what happens!

What experiences have you had where you took a long shot and something big paid off?

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