Difficulty In Terms Of Luck: Lotteries, Games, and Systems


What makes something difficult? We might say it’s when a higher level of skill is needed for success. However, to someone with the appropriate skill-set, a given task may be considered easy. The task might also be easy for someone with advanced tools in place of the skill-set.

So when we say something is going to be ‘difficult’, we’re usually saying that it’s going to take a lot of energy.

When we say something is ‘too difficult’, we’re saying that we don’t have the required skill-set or tools. No matter how much energy we put in, we won’t be able to succeed.

Energy Vs. Time

However, when we look back on a project, we tend to say something was easy or difficult based on how well it went according to our initial plan. If the stars lined up, then it probably wasn’t as bad as we thought. If not, then we encountered some difficulties and had to overcome them. In either case, we’re referring to how lucky we were.

Difficulty In Terms Of Luck

Refactoring difficulty based on luck yields the following chart:

Impact of Difficulty

With a perfect system, we have complete control on the outcome. There is no difficulty in achieving success and anyone can do it.

In a near perfect system, luck plays a small role. The impact of skill-set does not yet register, but there is a chance that our system will fail.

The skill-set in this chart is what is needed to make up for what the system lacks. As the certainty of our system decreases, our skill-set plays a more important role in our success.

When we are dependent on luck, the impact of the required skill-set decreases.

An environment to view this through is a casino.

Impact Difficulty2

The house has the winning hand. There is a system in place and a certainty that they will achieve their outcome of making money.

On the other hand, poker is a game, where skilled players have an advantage.

Slots are a lottery. The impact from a skill-set is minimal.

A Theoretical Most Difficult Task

Another qualifying trait of difficulty may be the amount of time needed for success.

The theoretical easiest task would be something that took no time and had a perfect system.

The theoretical most difficult task would be something that took more time than you had available, leaving the task to be carried on by future generations, and one that relied on the highest skill-set.

Even with the highest skill-set, the outcome would be completely dependent on perfect luck.

Back To Reality

Bringing it all home shows a fundamental of Continuous Improvement. The goal is to remove the impact that your skill-set has on your success. If you find yourself unable to delegate a task, then your systems need to be improved.

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