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The UnCollege Blog

Be The House: How to Stack The Odds of Life in Your Favor

This is a guest post from Jay Cross, founder of The DIY Degree. In 2011, Jay used a strategy known as credit-by-examination to rapidly accelerate his degree and now shares his time and money saving graduation systems with others on his blog.

How many of us worry ourselves sick over a big job interview? Or whether a specific college accepts us? Or even whether a particular man or woman shares our feelings? We place these outcomes on a pedestal, sincerely believing that this one thing is our only shot at happiness.

Blow it, and our lives might as well be over — what other hope do we have?

The pickup artist community has a name for this paralyzing outlook: oneitis. Typically used to describe frustrated men obsessed with “the perfect woman”, oneitis can actually be used to describe tunnel vision in all sorts of areas: college, careers, you name it.

Whenever you base your emotional or professional well-being on one outcome, you are being sabotaged by oneitis — and robbed of the ability to create your own luck.

Oneitis vs. “Being the House”

Compare this fearful, one-track mentality with how casinos operate.

When a gambler wins a $100,000 jackpot, do the owners throw up their hands in despair? Do their palms start sweating? Do they pace around the boardroom wondering if their kids can go to college anymore?

Absolutely not! In fact, casinos are HAPPY to pay the occasional lump sum, because they know that most of the time the gamblers are going to lose. If the house takes in a million dollars that week, well... What’s $100K between friends?

The house always wins

Casinos enjoy this enviable position, of course, because of the environment they create for themselves. Everything from their choice of games, to the free drinks their wait staff serves, to the minimum bids at the blackjack tables result in a steady accretion of advantages.

And not just advantages, but unfair advantages. Overwhelming odds. Every single game is rigged... And the gamblers know it before they walk through the door!

That’s what lets the casino shell out fistfuls of cash with a smile on their face. The house always wins.

How to “be the house” in your own life

What if you could build the unfair advantages of the casino into your own life?

What if you could walk into a job interview with quiet confidence, knowing you would be totally okay whether they hired you or not? That you could live an equally amazing life whether you went to Harvard or dropped out tomorrow?

You can!

See, most students are staking their entire future on one thing: their alma mater. “I went to a good school, so there it is. That’s my plan. ” And you know what? Sometimes that’s enough. But I wouldn’t want to count on it.

Do you want to know what 90% of them aren’t doing?

Imagine if you did ALL those things.

If you had a bulletproof work ethic, amazing skills, social fluency, a responsive network, the ability to sell yourself, x-ray vision into a hiring manager’s brain, savings and investments working for you 24/7...

Would it really be SUCH a big deal if one company turned you down?

Disappointing? Sure. Demoralizing? Maybe for a day or two. But certainly not a catastrophe. When an opportunity doesn’t pan out, you don’t panic. You say, “That’s okay, I’ll get the next one!”

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not for a moment suggesting that having all your ducks in a row guarantees success, or that you should never feel sad when something doesn’t work.

Nor am I saying you can do all of this overnight. (That wouldn’t be much of an edge, now would it?)

What I AM saying is that when you stack advantage on top of advantage on top of advantage, things usually work out in the long run. You gain the confidence to take risks. You’ll almost never find yourself in a “do or die” situation.

Being the house doesn’t mean never failing. It means you succeed often enough to make your failures irrelevant. Just like the casino.

Make no mistake: when I set out to accomplish something, I don’t want a level playing field. I want the competition to be as unfair as possible. I stack the deck in my favor by any means necessary.

The house always wins. Why shouldn’t you?