I would like to ask about the meaning or synonym of the phrases: (low ceiling, high floor) and (high ceiling, low floor) in the following text, which is about taking risks:

What has this got to do with major life decisions? The point is that, from Nat’s perspective, law is like ticket A, a gamble with a low ceiling but a fairly high floor. Things may go better or worse, but she will likely end up in a job with decent pay and have a reasonable quality of life. Music is ticket B, with a higher ceiling but a lower floor. Although Nat loves piano, there is a greater chance of disappointment and professional failure, years of frustration and heartbreak, with little to show for them. On balance, Nat believes that she should take the risk. It is better to gamble on music than law. But she doesn’t follow through. Instead, she applies to law school, choosing the equivalent of ticket A, and the rest is history.

about tickets for more clarification: Suppose she is asked to choose between two bets: ticket A pays forty dollars if a coin comes up heads, ten dollars if it comes up tails; ticket B pays a hundred dollars for heads, nothing for tails.

1 Answer 1


In this case the ceiling is the limit of the best possible outcome of choosing a career and the floor is the limit of the worst possible outcome.

This is saying that if Nat chooses to study law, then the floor is high - even a mediocre lawyer still makes decent money, but the ceiling is low - you cannot become a world-famous celebrity as a lawyer. This is the analogy of the bet paying $40 for heads and $10 for tails.

If she studies piano, on the other hand, the floor is low - there are many trained pianists who fail to make a living playing the piano, but the ceiling is high - you could become a famous musician who plays concerts all over the world. This is the analogy of the bet paying $100 for heads and nothing at all for tails.


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