“Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!“- C-3PO
“Never tell me the odds.“-Han Solo
Today March Madness begins, with play-in games in Dayton, Ohio. Millions of men, women, and children will fill out brackets with hopes of winning the Billion dollar prize for completing a 100% perfect bracket. Click here to enter https://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/quickenloansbracket/challenge/?qls=BDB_B14qlb03.qlredirect
Your odds of winning are somewhere between 30-150 Billion to 1. Let’s say it takes you 15 minutes to fill out the bracket. At minimum wage, your 15 minutes wasted is worth $1.85 cents. For many big-time lawyers, your 15 minutes is worth substantially more. So why do we do it? This is what an economist would call an irrational decision. Other irrational decisions include: buying lottery tickets, flight insurance, and buying ad space with Best Lawyers – yet myriads of people continue to make these odd decisions. Why? Because the size of the potential prize is so large that we are overtaken by emotion and fail to consider the infinitely large denominator.
How many irrational business decisions do you make? Attending networking events that are not attended by real referral sources or decision-makers, preparing RFP’s for companies that are total unknowns, and paying for mass media advertising that is so diluted it is almost impossible to hit the mark. How many business decisions do we make on a daily basis where we choose emotion over logic? Unfortunately, far too many. As busy professionals, we need to accept and commit to a clear hierarchy of priorities in order to prevent ourselves from becoming slaves to emotion.
I’m not telling you not to fill out a bracket or buy a lottery ticket again, I’m just saying that you should do so with a clear understanding that you are paying for a fantasy. Make sure the majority of your extra time and money go to those activities that have potential payoffs based on rationality.