Regression to the mean

This is one of my favorite concepts in probability. The idea that after an extraordinary outcome, the next ones will always regress towards the average, shaping a bell curve.

This applies to football players who do insanely well in one season, probabilistically they are more likely to perform worse the season after. Same applies to flight cadets who do above average in dog fights. And same applies to writing, after writing a very good piece, it is more likely that my next one won’t be as good. If I stress too much to keep the quality up, I might even produce a lower than average outcome.

That’s why gradual progress that improves the mean trumps random bursts of success. There are rare exceptions to this, but if you understand regression to the mean, you will focus on what matters and be less anxious.