The Fortune Teller

Posted on October 11, 2022

A few years ago I was at the Four Seasons in Toronto to give a keynote speech. The evening before my presentation I decided to explore the ritzy Yorkville area around the hotel. As I wandered past the shops, I encountered a woman sitting at a table on the sidewalk with a small sign that said “Fortune Teller--$10.” We made eye contact, and with an engaging smile she said, “Would you like for me to tell your fortune?”

I returned the smile and said, “I’m afraid I wouldn’t believe what you say.”

“Then I’ll tell you something you can believe,” she countered.

It was a catchy response, but I declined.

I’m skeptical of self-proclaimed psychics selling paranormal powers, especially when offered by a street vendor. I didn’t trust the fortune teller’s talents, but mainly I didn’t want her playing with my expectations.

If she had told me I could look forward to good luck and a great future, I would not have taken her seriously. On the other hand, if she had warned me of bad things to come, it might have caused me vague concerns or raised unnecessary doubts.

As human beings, we’re wired such that we weigh bad news twice as heavily as good news. To put it differently, we weigh losses (real or imagined) much greater than we do gains. Dr. Daniel Kahnemann, a psychologist, won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his research that proved this peculiar human bias.

This inborn, primitive instinct is designed to protect us from harm. As we move through life and encounter situations, our brain’s first scan is for danger, for how we might get hurt, or for what we might lose. The problem comes when we over-rely on this instinct. Instead of taking chances that are highly promising, too often we play it safe. We try to dodge risks and fail to pursue golden opportunities.

We should push ourselves to be braver. We should gamble on ourselves more vigorously. We should set very ambitious goals that stir our heart and make us stretch.

Here’s why: When people reflect on their lives, usually their greatest regrets are the risks they failed to take rather than risks they took that failed. We are victims of our caution far more than we are victims of too much nerve.

As for my encounter with the fortune teller, I could have spent ten bucks to get her predictions. But like some wise man said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Go invent yours. Manage down your doubts, fears, and insecurities. Manage up your optimism and faith in yourself. Shape your future courageously.

This isn’t about taking a big chance. It’s about giving yourself a big chance.


Price Pritchett is one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance. His firm—PRITCHETT, LP—is recognized worldwide for its thought leadership on mergers, corporate culture, change management, and accelerated achievement. These writings define the behaviors and individual mindset underlying fast growth and innovation.


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