The $3,678,343.67 Jackpot

Consistency is Power — Part 1

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Blackjack is where many Vegas newbies start. It’s one of the most popular card games ever created, and yet you can pick up the basics in a day.

It requires strategy, which many find refreshing in a sea of games of chance. And blackjack is a social game that’s fun to play with friends. You can share a table, drink for free, and play for hours with minimal losses, and maybe even rack up a winning streak. It’s almost the perfect casino game (until you find 3-card poker, but that’s a post for another day).

Even if you aren’t superstitious, you may find that you are in a casino. You may have a lucky charm, a ritual for turning over your cards or stacking your money. You probably choose specific machines or feel the vibe of a table before you sit down. And when new players join your table, when new dice, new decks, or new dealers are introduced, it shifts your mojo.

Let’s say you are an experienced player, on a roll, and the third-base position opens up, do you scoot over? If you leave the spot open, and some sloppy drunk ambles over, fumbling and mumbling, something about, I’ve always wanted to learn blackjack, how do you feel?

Do you order a drink, but sit out a couple of hands to feel it out? Or move tables immediately? If you wait, how many losing hands will you tolerate before you color up (consolidate your chips) and go?

For those who don’t play blackjack, imagine the tabletop like a baseball field. The dealer is home base, the first spot to the dealer’s left is first base, then it goes clockwise. The dealer always deals in the same order. The first person dealt is always first base, and the last person is always third base, no matter how many spots or how many players.

Third base is an important position because when the third base player hits (takes a card) or stays (passes) smartly, following a winning strategy, odds are the game will play out as anticipated. If the third base player does something unpredictable or contrary to the strategy, it jeopardizes the outcome of the table.

So, would it surprise you to know that statistically speaking, the odds are relatively fixed, supposedly negligible even if the third baseman is erratic? It’s hard to believe.

It’s mere superstition according to casino game analyst and mathematician Michael Shackleford — better known as the Wizard of Odds —who once proved it by running a billion-plus hand simulation to see precisely how third base play affects the table.

In Shackleford’s scenarios, players employed a basic blackjack strategy perfectly. He then adjusted the third base player’s strategy to include several common mistakes. Shackleford found the first base player won and lost at roughly the same rate regardless of how wildly or poorly the third base position was playing. Huh.

Tell that to a table on a roll, though. True or not, there’s a perceived advantage from having a strong player at third base who can ‘help’ the table win, ‘ensure’ the dealer busts (exceeds 21), who makes strategic decisions based on what cards are already on the table and what is likely to happen next.

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Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Vegas is escapism, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all could use a mini-break from reality in 2020, a little reprieve from the heaviness, so before we continue, close your eyes to imagine your best Vegas trip ever. You know the one. I saw that big smile — that one.

The one that you hit the jackpot. The one you found yourself on an impossible streak. The one where you saw the shows, bought the stuff, met someone, had a blast with your friends, got the perfect tan, won and won and won some more.

Re-live it for about 90 seconds and then come back for a probability lesson. Bring that lucky winner winner chicken dinner energy with you. Did you know learning with good energy always leads to better results and improved retention?

Whether you believe in the third base player’s ability to influence the outcome of the hand, if that player is inconsistent, it makes the other players edgy — the table gets a weird vibe.

It happens because the other players want congruity; they want to control as many variables as possible; they want to believe in the odds and anticipate a favorable outcome.

They want to play their own game: make smart bets, hit, stay, split, or double-down when it makes sense to them, and optimize their chances to win instead of reacting to the third baseman’s shenanigans.

Kind of like in real life, right? If we do the right thing, we want to trust that it will work out, that it will pay off, that some wild card isn’t going to mess it all up.

But is it a realistic goal? Put another way, does consistency really matter?

Simply, yes and yes.

Take your job, for example; what would happen if your boss, your staff, and your clients could count on your behavior and anticipate their wins and losses accordingly? What about your family, neighbors, or pets? Think about any setting, any relationship, any event; what if everyone involved could make smart bets, play their own game, and trust that it would work to maximum advantage?

Inconsistency lowers our expectations, limits our commitment, and erodes trust, preventing vulnerability, intimacy, and unity. And when it comes to ourselves, inconsistency challenges our faith, limits our potential, and undermines our confidence.

And you thought we we were just talking about blackjack.

But what would happen if we were consistent? What if we could learn the game, understand the odds, and improve our chances of success?

What if consistency is the key to a happy family, making more money, being healthier, living longer, and on and on? Doesn’t the idea of any advantage, even a percentage point or two, seem motivating?

Maybe not.

What if the only thing it takes to live better right now is consistency? It seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Or maybe, it looks boring. You like to mix it up, to be spontaneous; maybe consistency seems stifling.

Or perhaps, the additional edge, the micro percentage point improvement, doesn’t seem like a big enough deal. You want dramatic results, huge returns, a magnificent jackpot. I get it.

Did you know improving by only one percent daily makes a meaningful difference, especially in the long run?

The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor decline accumulates into something much more.

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The Jameses talk about this in their books and blogs (Clear and Altucher). In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. It won’t impact you very much today.

But over time, small improvements or setbacks compound, and eventually, there’s a substantial difference between people who make slightly better decisions daily and those who don’t.

You’ve probably heard this before — habits are the compound interest of self–improvement. Micro changes seem to make little difference on any given day, yet the impact over the months and years can be enormous. That delay is what derails us, because we can rarely see the impact except in retrospect.

Clear explains in Atomic Habits that we often dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much at the moment. If you save a little money now, you’re still not a millionaire. If you go to the gym three days in a row, you’re still out of shape. If you study Mandarin for an hour tonight, you still haven’t learned the language. We make a few changes, but the results take time, so the behaviors never stick, and we slide back into our previous routines.

And we can’t see the harmful habits compound either. If you eat an unhealthy meal today, the scale doesn’t fluctuate wildly. If you work late and ignore your family tonight, they will forgive you in the morning. If you procrastinate and don’t write today, you can publish later in the week. No big deal, right?

But when we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. We pack on 40 pounds, we find ourselves facing divorce, and we never write our book.

Time magnifies the margin between success and failure, and it compounds in whichever direction you feed it. It’s called marginal gains (or marginal losses as the case may be).

Improve a little each day. It compounds. When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days. Compounding tiny excellence is what creates big excellence: micro changes, my friend.

Consistency is not just about doing something repeatedly until we achieve mastery; it’s the community we build along the way. Consistency is the person we become and the competition we leave behind. We will all jump on the diet and join a gym in January, but some of us are still committed in February, March, and September — that’s the power of consistency.

If I read 5 pages a day from non-fiction books, then in a year I will have read 1830 pages of knowledge. And each page I read will build upon the pages I’ve read before.

And it’s 1830 pages 99% of people won’t read.

— James Altucher

Compounding isn’t just growth; it’s advantage, but only if we use it to our advantage. To do that, we must invest in ourselves. So, let’s talk money.

Have you always wanted to be able to do compound interest problems in your head? Me neither, but it’s a useful skill if you’re looking for a quick potential investment benchmark.

The rule of 72 says that to find the number of years required to double your money at a given interest rate, you just divide the annual interest rate into 72. For example, if you want to know how long it will take to double your money at eight percent interest, divide 72 by eight to get nine years.

You can also run it backward: if you want to double your money in six years, just divide six into 72 to find that it will require an interest rate of about 12 percent.

But what if we don’t get 12% or have nine years? Tiny excellence, right? Let’s look at the math at 1%.

  • You started with an investment of:$1 on Tue Sep 29 2020
  • Your principal amount grew to:$35.24 by Wed Sep 29 2021
  • Your total cash withdrawals were: $0.00 over the course of 365 days
  • Your total NET profit for the 365-day period was: $34.24

What’s the big whoop? $34.24 doesn’t even pay for a big Starbucks order any more. But, you aren’t starting at $1. Well, maybe you are, but over time, you will have more to invest.

Over time, it’s not just your money that compounds — your behaviors, connections, ideas, and advantages compound too. So, anytime you choose a goal or a habit to become consistent on, yes, you are starting on Day 1, small and sucky, but each time, you are layering it on top of what you already bring to the table.

And each year, if you stay consistent, you get exponentially better; each year gets richer, more delicious, and the returns higher and more magnificent. If you keep going, keep investing, keep learning, keep layering, it will get crazy good.

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You aren’t starting from scratch, you are starting from experience, and that’s exponential.

You aren’t starting from scratch each time, you are starting from experience, and that’s exponential. What’s experience worth? A factor of 10? of 100? of 1000? Maybe more?

  • You started with an investment of:$10 on Tue Sep 29 2020
  • Your principal amount grew to:$377.80 by Wed Sep 29 2021
  • Your total cash withdrawals were: $0.00 over the course of 365 days
  • Your total NET profit for the 365-day period was: $367.80
  • You started with an investment of:$100 on Tue Sep 29 2020
  • Your principal amount grew to:$3,778.07 by Wed Sep 29 2021
  • Your total cash withdrawals were: $0.00 over the course of 365 days
  • Your total NET profit for the 365-day period was: $3,678.07
  • You started with an investment of:$1,000 on Tue Sep 29 2020
  • Your principal amount grew to:$37,783.55 by Wed Sep 29 2021
  • Your total cash withdrawals were: $0.00 over the course of 365 days
  • Your total NET profit for the 365-day period was: $36,783.55
  • You started with an investment of:$10,000 on Tue Sep 29 2020
  • Your principal amount grew to:$37,7834.26 by Wed Sep 29 2021
  • Your total cash withdrawals were: $0.00 over the course of 365 days
  • Your total NET profit for the 365-day period was: $367,834.26
  • You started with an investment of:$100,000 on Tue Sep 29 2020
  • Your principal amount grew to:$3,778,343.67 by Wed Sep 29 2021
  • Your total cash withdrawals were: $0.00 over the course of 365 business days
  • Your total NET profit for the 365-day period was: $3,678,343.67

So, it still took the same amount of time — one year, and it still was the same rate of return — 1% compounded daily, but now we are talking about an amount that got your attention. $3,678,343.67. Boom.

And yes, I dragged that math out for effect, but it’s good to see the potential of a 3.6 million-dollar-jackpot. When we get excited by possibility, our minds expand even further, our imaginations trigger an adrenalin boost, and we can dream even bigger. Bring that lucky winner winner chicken dinner energy to the equation (and to life).

If you knew you could take $100k and turn it into $3.6M in a year, you’d do that, right? Of course, you would.

We all have big dreams, but they can seem impossible. Now that we know a 1% daily improvement is all it takes to achieve them, that changes the game, doesn’t it? $100k into $3.6M in a year? Yes, please!

But this isn’t about money or gambling; it’s about habits, remember? Habits are the compound interest of self–improvement. So before you run off choosing goals and making plans, let’s figure out consistency.

In the next post, we will explore four strategies to develop consistency. I don’t recommend choosing all four, just pick one strategy and one goal and start there. Focus.

As you get the hang of it, as your confidence grows, and your consistency starts to snowball, layer in new strategies and goals, but not at the expense of what is already working. If it’s working and consistency has become automatic, stay in that zone. Be patient. Wait for the jackpot.

Written by

Life coach for women. Writer for 29 publications. Happiness, success, productivity, balance, leadership, inspiration. Follow me on Instagram @coachformoms.

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