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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Average Smaverage

There is a hypothesis called the law of averages.

The technical definition goes something like this: “The observation that probability influences everyday life so that over the long term the possible outcomes of a repeated event occur with specific frequencies.” This could mean the observation that if one releases a bowling ball from a second-story window, it will fall downward. Every time. It gets more dicey when involving something like flipping a coin.

One might think that with a fifty-fifty chance of either heads or tails turning up, flipping a coin a substantial number of times would result in half heads and half tails. I just flipped a quarter and seven out of ten times heads turned up. Perhaps I need to flip it ten thousand times to get a more accurate reading . . . but I don’t have the time.

Here’s my observation of said law as I experience it in my own life . . . at least when it comes to the 50-50 chance ratio. When I go to plug something in a wall outlet that requires the plug to line up with the wider prong on one side, the result is anything but average, if average is half-and-half. If I do not look first, my attempt to insert the plug will be the wrong way approximately 84.6% of the time. If I come to a fork in the trail and don’t know for sure which one will take me to my destination, 79.3% of the time I’ll saunter down the wrong way. In the dark, inserting a battery in a device that requires the positive-negative end to be aligned properly, 82.7% of the time I’ll put it in backwards. Etcetera.

Granted, there are situations beyond our control. But a goodly amount of time if one looked first, took a map and checked it first, or turned on the light first, the right course of action would much more likely be accomplished.

To live smart is to think smart. Smart thinking includes visual checking, map reading, and illuminating the situation. In the USMC we had a 6-P slogan: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. As an old Marine, I need to refresh my life with that dictum regularly. Whenever I do, things generally turn out rather better.

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