The Outcome of a Decision Doesn’t Dictate Whether it was the Right Decision


This may in fact be my most frustrating pet peeve. Professional gamblers probably understand this lesson better than no one else, but many people follow a more limited and linear logic.

You bet on red and it lands on black, they say:

Should of gone with black.

You bet on black and it lands on red, they say:

Should of gone with red.

Continuing with our gambling analogy, a spouse (Spouse A) takes all the mortgage and bill money to the horse track and bets the lot. Their significant other (Spouse B) finds out and are rightfully furious. Spouse A manages to win and win big. As Spouse A comes home, through the front door, Spouse B is primed to chew them out, but is interrupted by Spouse A:

I won!

Spouse B:

What? You did? That’s wonderful!

And if Spouse A would have lost the money, I think you know how the story would have gone.

The point of the story is that it doesn’t matter whether they would have won or lost, the decision will always be a bad one. If you make a good decision and the outcome is a failure, it was still the right decision and there should be no regret. If you make a bad decision and the outcome is a success, it was still the wrong decision and there should be no justification. And winning is not a valid justification.

In society, people look at winners and losers in a very black and white way. They look at the results, but ignore the factors that led to the results. Am I saying that you shouldn’t take risks or that you should never give something a chance unless the odds are in your favor? No. It’s more about owning your decisions and learning from them.

If you go into something stupid and desperate, needing to win… or else, you will always lose.

But, if you go into something understanding, maybe even expecting the chance that you’ll lose money, you now have a much healthier grip on the situation, and failures become more like stepping stones, than the final result.