Instrument rated pilot, Trial Attorney, or Sports Handicapper? Which is the toughest?

An unusual subject to say the least:) But as I woke in the early hours of the morning the inquiry came into my mind. I thought about it until I woke up this morning and decided to give my thoughts on the subject.
I am in an unusual position to assess the question as I have been all three over the years.
I will save the answer for the end but you should be surprised to learn my conclusions. They are interesting.
Let’s take up first being an instrument-rated pilot. As some of you may know most pilots never reach the level of being instrument rated. Many get their private pilot’s license but never move on to the more stringent testing of being instrument rated.
And it is stringent. Hours and hours of being the pilot “under the hood” with no visual clues and an obsessive instructor.
The instructor takes you into impossible situations while you have only to look at the instruments in front of you for reference.
And then there are always close calls. Flying into Palwaukee on an instrument approach at one of the busiest small airports. Being “under the hood” for a cross-country flight with high winds. Doing a last minute go around because you came in too fast on approach. And of course, practicing stalls about 10,000 above the ground.
So where does being an instrument-rated pilot fit into the difficulty scale? The learning is very difficult. But once you get past the learning part and then putting a few hundred hours as pilot in command, flying is like getting in and out of bed:)
It’s almost too easy. At some point, you love rolling out onto the runway and going full throttle and then lifting off. It’s quite a rush. And as much of a rush is going through the clouds on an overcast day and breaking out into the sunlight. Or skimming the top of the cloud layer.
Its as enjoyable an experience as you will find but once you get it down (if you can) its very easy.
Next, we come to being a Trial Attorney.
Let me start out by saying you either have it or you do not. It’s not a skill you can learn. Sure you can learn certain techniques as well as the law. But to be able to get out in front of a Jury and be effective is a different thing.
And it’s not limited to your personality type. I tend toward the introverted side socially. I enjoy doing things myself. I like to figure things out myself. I am uncomfortable in social settings even being around family. And forget about giving a speech:)
But the courtroom is entirely different. Some would think its a role outside of your everyday personality. But I view it as something completely different. It’s something you have ingrained into you from early on. Its a way you view things and think about things. Its a way you view people and think about people.
Gerry Spence said it better than anyone I can recall. He pointed out that most attorneys have a fear of the courtroom. They will do everything they can to avoid the courtroom.
Spence gave an analogy of someone hanging from a cliff. That person would scratch and pull until he was exhausted. And then scratch and pull some more to try to avoid falling off the cliff. These were the trial attorneys that wanted to avoid the courtroom:)
His advice: When its inevitable, let go and enjoy the fall. I read his book where he gave that advice some 30 years ago. It’s advice that I remember to this day and it has served me well in all aspects of life.
So, you either have it or you do not. I had it. I loved the courtroom. I lived for jury trials. When I was trying a case I worked 24/7 until the case concluded. I always had my primary case file with me at all times outside of the courtroom. At dinner, my law partners would laugh when they saw me with my files.
But one never knew when some idea would flash that needed to be written down and cross-referenced with something in the file.
But all that seems mundane. What I mean about you either have it or you do not is this:
When you start out a trial picking a jury of 12 the one thing that you know for sure is that the jury does not trust attorneys! And why would they:)
That’s a given in every case you begin. But, in almost every case that I have tried from complex medical negligence, complicated products liability, federal conspiracy cases, and even murder trials by the end of the case usually, the only person the jury trusted was me.
Afterall, as I told them from the start it was not my job to tell them what to do. It was not my job to tell them what the facts were in the case. That was only for them to decide. But I was there to be a guide. To guide them through the difficult journey they were going to begin.
And I stuck by that at every step of the trial.
You do not learn that. You do not learn how to gain peoples trust in a very short period of time. People you have never met and except for a brief questionnaire no nothing about. People that in many instances live in completely different circumstances.
But I had the knack for it.
So, you either have it or you do not. Hard work will not make you successful as a trial attorney. Sure you have to do hard, time-consuming work. But in the end, it’s an ingrained skill that cannot be learned.
Finally, we come to being a Sports Handicapper. Where do I start:)
You do not learn this skill in college, except when your cutting class and losing your money.
You learn to be a successful sports handicapper by losing money as your indoctrination fee!
Only 1 or 2 % of people that wager on sports daily make money. Its very like poker players. You go into the poker room and talk to the players you see day in and day out. They are all making money.
Except something interesting happens. Poker plays tend to disappear from the poker scene quite often. The players you thought were making a lot of money finally go broke and give it up.
I remember when I was playing 80/160 limit holdem every day at the Bellagio years ago there was a player that moved here from Texas.
A nice friendly guy. Had an unusual playing style. Loved playing any A. After playing with him every day for several months he turned to me and asked:
“When do you start making a big bet an hour?”
Like it was automatic!
I mention this as gambling is a unique skill. It requires a combination of skills that the first two do not require.
First, you have to have the skills to a level that will put you in the 1or 2% that actually make money.
Some of those skills are:
A mastery of numbers and probability theory.
A master at analyzing data and finding reliable patterns in the data.
A knack for finding the nuances of each sport along with the nuances in the various stages of the season in each sport.
But all of this is not even close to the skill of being able to master yourself and the psychology of gambling daily. If you do not understand the toll big swings can take on the psyche then you can never become a successful sports handicapper.
If you do not understand the forces that have driven you to sports betting you cannot be successful.
If you do not understand the potential for destructive tendencies from these forces you cannot be a successful handicapper.
I have said time and again that the biggest roadblock to being a successful gambler is yourself. The way you have been taught to view yourself and think always gets in the way of being a successful gambler.
You’re dealing with uncertainty every day. You also in most instances are in an environment where the edges are small. So the variance tends to be big. Few can deal with this uncertainty let alone the swings in their bankroll.
It’s a rare few that can gamble day in and day out and keep a rational mind. As there is always something trying to distract you from success. Whether its the people you have to deal with daily or the voice in your mind 2nd guessing you, its always something.
So, in conclusion to me, it is not even close. Being a successful sports handicapper is by far the most difficult of the above three!
RickJ’s Handicapping Picks
Skype: riccja

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