145. Deserve to Win

Rama Nimmagadda
5 min readJan 5, 2024
Photo taken by Prateek Kumar Rohatgi in 2023 at Kabini National Park, India

“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of undeserving people.” ― Charles T. Munger”

I ran my first full marathon in 2014. I ran a couple of half marathons by then and that made me confident that I will do well in a full marathon run as well. In estimating my time for the full marathon, I doubled my half marathon time and added fifteen minutes to it. I had no doubt in my mind that I would take lesser than 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete my maiden full marathon race. As it turned out, I ended up at about 5 hours. And in so much pain that it felt like completing the run was a miracle in itself. I just could not understand how I fared so badly. In my next few marathons, I did better — both qualitatively and quantitatively but I was not able to run under 4:15minutes. Several years later, I was finally able to run under four hours and 10 minutes and the difference this time was that I trained well. I almost fully followed through on the training plan and hence I deserved a much better performance.

I can think of a number of occasions where I was disappointed because I did not achieve what I thought was a fair shot, given my innate potential. This happened in competitive academic tests, promotions at work and in athletic performances. But having a potential for something and realizing that potential are two very different things. I have seen that most people do not get any close to their potential in their lives — whether it be in health, relationships, vocation or wealth. And this is largely because they do not put in the work required to achieve it.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” — Zig Ziglar

As we enter a new year, it is natural to set goals for the year. And most such goals will never be met unfortunately. This is not surprising. Not because these goals are beyond the realm of possibility but because we do not put in the efforts required to achieve these goals. We start out OK but fail to endure.

If you are looking for that promotion at work, you should take the risk of going beyond your comfort zone. And sustain in that “beyond” zone. If you want to run a marathon, you should stick to a training plan that typically lasts three or four months. The plan may require that you endure physical pain, limited social life, disciplined diet and sleep habits etc over sixteen weeks. Upon executing the plan, you can expect to succeed because you deserve to succeed.

If you are preparing for a competitive exam, you may have to trudge through a lot of boring practice — working out problems that you know you can solve but actually put in the effort to solve. Then you can expect to succeed because you will then deserve to succeed.

Pretty much everyone who made enviable wealth in the stock market typically endures multiple large drawdowns of 40% or more on their portfolio values. This is at par for the course. 40% drawdown should not really be considered as a risk because it is to be expected. Volatility is a feature of equity investments. Someone who is not prepared to weather multiple large drawdowns cannot expect to make serious wealth in the markets.

“If you don’t practice you don’t deserve to win.“ — Andre Agassi

Success does not go to the endowed or the entitled, it goes to the deserved.

Path to success will inevitably be paved by a number of setbacks. By not risking failure, one does not deserve to win. So, if you are not willing to put in hard work, be smart about it, face setbacks, indignation, ridicule and self-doubt, success can happen, if at all, only by luck because you are not doing things that make you deserve to win.

I believe that the “deserving to win” mindset can be cultivated. It is easier to achieve goals that are a little beyond your current capability — as opposed to ones that are way beyond. For example, it is much more “possible” to achieve a target of running 5K than a half a full marathon. It is far easier to achieve ten percent savings (and investment) than to save fifty percent of your income. By developing a habit of successfully taking on challenging but achievable goals, one can develop the mindset to expect and endure efforts. Then the focus, hopefully, will turn from winning to deserving to win.


“How to find a good spouse? The best single way is to deserve a good spouse.” — Charlie Munger

Most worthwhile goals require you to fight through physical pain, boredom, tedium, bouts of anxiety and nervousness. All of this sustained over a non-trivial period of time. In fact, most people have potential to achieve greatness (however they define greatness) but very, very few people ever achieve it. That is because very few people put in the work required to realize their potential. Tortoise wins the race because it puts in the work whereas despite much higher potential, rabbit loses the race because it does not follow through in effort.


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A bit on my background

I help people make better decisions.

I coach people on “Making Better Decisions”, “Financial Intuition” and “Building Great Careers”. I’m open to run sessions on these topics in institutions — this will help me create larger impact.

I’m also an Investment Advisor (RIA) registered with the Securities and the Exchange Board of India (SEBI). As an RIA, I analyze and prepare financial plans to help people achieve their financial goals.

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