Nine Times Out of Ten

Welcome to single-digit days left to go, my friends!

(Thank God for small favors, yes?!)

Hey, what do you guys think about when someone says, “…nine times out of ten…?” Does it bore you? Do you not really think about it? Or, better yet, does it maybe even piss you off some?

I mean think about it. Isn’t it sort of a cop out to say that?

Isn’t “nine times out of ten” really the ultimate CYA? The thing you say to cover all bets? To say this thing that we’re talking about, this thing – whatever it is – is almost guaranteed to turn out a certain way? (And oh yeah, just to be safe, let’s mention that there could be one time when there’s a different result. So, if there is a surprise, it won’t be such a big deal.)

‘Gotta tell you guys; I just don’t think that plays.

Speaking for myself, I know I’ve used the expression plenty of times. And I’m sure I did that for all those reasons I mentioned above. But now that I really think about it, deferring to a “nine times out of ten” mindset  isn’t really the ticket. It doesn’t work. Plain and simple, it’s just not who I am.

What am I talking about? I mean those are just words, right? Maybe so, but it’s more about what the
words represent.

“Hey, see those two guys over there? The guy in lane three can beat the guy in lane four. Yeah, he can beat him, alright; I say he can beat that other guy nine times out of ten.”

OK, but what do we  think about that “one time out of ten?” That one-time aberration? That mistake?
That fluke??

In our example above, when it comes to those two runners, can we close our eyes for a minute and think of the determination required for that second guy to win? Even that one time? Just imagine the effort it takes to even live up to the “nine times out of ten” statement, something that we more or less think of as an axiom,
a proven truth.

So, it’s ‘gotta be true. right? The guy in lane three is faster. He’s smarter. Hey, he’s just a better runner.

And then there’s our man in lane four, out to defy the odds. What does he need to do that one time to ensure the most unlikely of victories? Is it enough for him to just run his heart out? And does he essentially have to have the race of his life in order to win?

Whatever it is, whatever that proverbial “other guy” has to do to win, to me, that’s what makes it all worth it. Isn’t that really what moves us? Those decidedly “different” outcomes?

Look, I get it. Certain things are meant to happen, and most often, they surely will. But for those exceptions, those times when fate, or luck, or even destiny produces an unexpected outcome, don’t we quietly rejoice?

I mean if “nine times out of ten,” were really the true norm, that would make it pretty  hard to have many surprises. (Yes, I understand that there are both “good” and “bad” surprises, but the same outcome almost all of the time? That’s no fun; nor is it what really inspires people.)

If “nine times out of ten” was really our reality, maybe we would be missing all those things that somehow make our lives more tolerable – and ultimately more meaningful.

If we just sold out and said “…nine times out of ten…,” maybe we wouldn’t have things like rags-to-riches stories, those who become successful business owners, even though once, they could barely read.

Or maybe we wouldn’t get to enjoy the performance of a spectacular dancer, who once broke both legs in a bad auto accident. Or maybe we couldn’t experience the joy of watching a great baseball player. Yeah, the same guy who was told as a child that he’d never get his shot. Because he was born without a right hand.

So all due respect to you, “nine times out of ten,” I think we’re ‘gonna keep you on the sidelines for a while. All of us are just too busy thinking of that “one” time, that one time that we all remember the thrill of something unexpected, unanticipated, and real.


Scroll to Top