Winning strategies

by Admin
Updated: July 30, 2020

Ambitious goals based on carefully thought out winning strategies are more likely to be achieved

Almost any effort at creating a winning strategy imparts some advantage. And this can be magnified (or confounded) in competitive situations when another party is not using a rational strategy.

Thoughtful analysis reveals many good strategies for everything from consolidating debt to dominating the markets.

The ingredients of a rational strategy

  1. Observation
  2. Education
  3. Calculation
  4. Science
  5. Experience

#1 Observation

It all begins with observation. Noticing something or some combination of things that others have overlooked can provide opportunities and advantages.

Such things can be surprisingly simple.

#2 Education

It helps greatly to have a good education too. This means acquiring knowledge that already exists to save yourself the time (& pain) of discovering first hand. It is always within reach...

Even the best schools won’t teach you everything you need to achieve your specific goals. So, sooner or later, you have to take charge of your own education yourself.

From the Internet to individual mentors, there is now so much information you can spend the rest of your life studying and never actually do anything so it’s important to practice.

#3 Calculation

Some basic mathematics is always necessary so you can calculate if your effort will pay off.

#4 Science

With a good amount of intelligence, it’s possible to figure out a lot of things for yourself.

Scientific method essentially involves coming up with an idea of how something works and then doing some tests to try to prove it.

Without formal scientific training, proving things can be a little tricky. However, in practice, finding a strong correlation might be all you need to make a good start.

As understanding improves, it provides insights for maximizing return and protecting against changing circumstances. It may also lead to other beneficial discoveries.

#5 Experience

Experience allows the brain to register insights that are difficult or unwieldy to express mathematically.

For example, you can learn to catch a ball with a little practice without having to solve any equations.

Experience is only useful if you are paying attention.


  1. You notice a potential demand for some kind of exotic plant.
  2. You do some research.
  3. You calculate income vs expenditure to see if it’s profitable to grow.
  4. You experiment with different growing conditions to improve yield.
  5. You get to know subtle differences that determine the plant’s qualities.
  6. The cycle begins again as you go back to the market with some variations to find out which are preferred.


There are two approaches to winning.

  1. Maximizing personal gain
  2. Gaining more than others

and when others are involved there are three possible responses:

  1. Compete
  2. Ignore
  3. Cooperate

Historically, compete has received so much attention that it’s often treated as the only response.

This is because many situations look like they’ll give you maximum return if you destroy your competition. Winner takes all.

The “prisoner’s dilemma” is a model in game theory that describes such situations. When the rules of the game are so clearly defined, only mathematics is needed to find winning strategies.

In real world situations, rules and values can be more difficult to discover and quantify: Sometimes defeating others has very high value. Sometimes sustainability and security are overlooked.

Iteration and reputation

A strategy can produce very different results next time out, even though the situation appears identical.

This can happen because the other parties involved now know what to expect and prefer a different outcome for themselves.

Moving on from a defeat, it might make most financial sense to concentrate fully on the next project. However, establishing a reputation for forgiveness might invite future attacks.

Irrational behavior

There is no guarantee that other parties will behave rationally in the calculated sense.

This is because our brains immediately provide us with primitive assessments (e.g. if it looks bigger it must be bigger).

It can be shocking to discover how often the other side is flying by the seat of their pants and their weak responses can undermine a strategy that was expecting more properly calculated selfishness.

Self-destructive behavior is also possible. People will sometimes work against their own best interests, especially when they haven’t evaluated those interests. This can turn everything upside down.

More info

Success kid

“Why it matters if we become innumerate” at

The “Prisoner’s Dilemma” at and (in more detail) at

Apparent irrational behavior described in the classic paper, “Labor Supply Of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A Time” at, a push-back (the reward:risk ratio is overvalued) at and an update (rationality is made not born) at

“The Pros and Cons of Manipulation” at

“Why Strategy Execution Unravels - and What to Do About It” at

Internal links

Correlation and causation Charting for fun and profit Fallacy fallacies Winners and losers All articles
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