We spend a lot of our time trying to predict, plan, and steer so that we get the best possible outcome — in society, in our company, and in life in general. In startups, in particular, I find one winning strategy.
There are three different ways of understanding these systems: as a game of dice, poker, or chess.
If you believe life is like dice, you find it random or perfectly predicted and controlled by a greater being. You are either rather miserable or very devout. Why you didn’t get the job? Well, who knows? Or, God didn’t want that for you. I find it very hard to work with people that run their life this way.
If life is chess, well then you can plan everything. Chess is not so much a game as a computational challenge. The person who computes the fastest and with the best focus will inarguably win. I also find these people hard to work with.
I find life to be like poker. There is a lot of hidden information. Sometimes you have a great hand and lose. Sometimes you have a bad hand and win. The way to get better is to understand what one doesn’t know and how likely the outcomes are. Some people play life as a cash poker game, trying to win every hand, some play life as a tournament and think more longterm.