#1 The Adaptive Dilemma

The Hard Truth [Start Here]

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Nic Peterson

Forget the tech, forget the tools and forget the "rules" for a second. Look in the mirror.

System Reliability and The Adaptive Dilemma

These are the two concepts that you will want to understand to get the most out of the stuff I am sending out.

System reliability (the probability that you get the outcome you expect) is a product of the reliability of the individual components of the system. As an example:

Let’s say that you expect to get in your car and drive to the office:

If 90% of the time your car starts when you expect it to, and 90% of the time it runs reliably after starting there is an 81% probability that you get in your car and get to the office as expected.

(90% x 90% = 81%)

Now, if 90% of the time you actually have enough gas in your tank to turn on your car and drive it to the office the probability of the outcome you expect is driven down to 72.9%

(90% x 90% x 90% = 72.9%)

As you can (hopefully) see: the more components in a system, the less reliable that system is likely to be; as every component can only drive DOWN reliability.

Even if you add a MORE reliable single component to the existing system, the total system reliability will do down:

90% x 90% x 90% is the example above. If we add an additional component that is 99% reliable:

90% x 90% x 90% x 99% = 72.1%

We added a component more reliable than all the other components and the total reliability still went down. Multiplication is a bitch like that.


  • More components = less reliability

  • Super-reliable components cannot make up for less reliable ones unless they replace them.

Here is what this is important:

Most of the tech we are surrounded by is nearly perfect. Obviously, our cars, computers, phones, etc are far more reliable than the 90% examples above. And yet, we fail to get the outcome we expect quite often. And here’s why:

The least reliable component in every system is the human.

If your car actually only start 9 out of every 10 times you tried to start it, or your computer only turned on 9 out of every 10 times you needed to use it you would be outraged.

This lack of reliability in the tech would CLEARLY be a huge problem and it would be obvious to you and everyone around you that 90% reliability is a limit to your success.

Now, turn your attention to human behavior:

  • If you follow your plan and “eat clean” during the week (5 days out of 7) you are incredibly unreliable. You wouldn’t accept 71.4% reliability from ANY other component of your life.

  • If you plan to wake up at 5 am every day and succeed 6 times your behavior is 85.7% reliable. If your phone only worked 85% of the time you would be outraged.

I think you get it.

Because we are not willing to look in the mirror and think critically we expect total and complete reliability in all of the things outside of ourselves - but not the most important part of the system - ourselves.

If you are not getting the results you want or expect and you are looking to get better technology, better plans, better strategies, etc it might be worth looking in the mirror and being honest about the problem.

No amount of new technology is going to help if you do not know how to modify your behavior in a reliable way around that tech.

This leads us to the Adaptive Dilemma…

What the short videos below and the world will start to make a lot more sense to you, methinks. Each link has a video I made for Guardian Academy embedded in an article they wrote about the video:

It's worth the time.

I have dozens of videos about the adaptive dilemma because it's so important to understand, but the links above are probably the most succinct.

You can a replay of a talk I gave that marries the two concepts for real estate investors here.

Just for shits and giggles, here is a video + article I made for Guardian Academy that breaks down system reliability again.

Take your time. Don't make sense of things quickly, that's cognitively lazy. Sit with it and review it, reflect and observe.



PS. Here is a short (okay it's 30 minutes) video breaking down why I have a low tolerance for lazy thinkers

#adaptive dilemma