“Heads you win… Tails you lose...” an age old expression with which you are undoubtedly most familiar.

Following the National Anthem, this infamous coin toss is the subsequent activity of every NFL football game. Of course, this procedure is for the purpose of determining which team will kick and which team will receive the football. One team is put in an offensive mode, while the other is placed in a defensive mode. The result of this coin toss is perceived as either a potential advantage or disadvantage, dependent on your point of view.

Concurrently, it defines the “posture” from which their work will begin. In essence, defining their operational modality. It also represents the frivolous nature with which so many day to day decisions are actually made by most people and organizations.

How many times in your life have you tossed a coin in the air... caught it as it began to fall... slapped your hand down on your opposite wrist... paused a moment... and then lifted your hand to learn the outcome... heads... or tails? What “important” decisions did you determine through the use of this tried and true methodology? What movie to see? Who to ask to the prom? What restaurant to dine at? What vacation destination to travel to?

Given the law of averages, 50% of your decisions turned out quite favorably, while the other 50% of your decisions didn’t turn out so hot at all. At first blush, it all seems quite innocent and fun. Perhaps, even a form of entertainment. But, is that really true? Or is the perennial coin toss merely the tip of a larger iceberg?

Let’s consider the other evidence on which this case rests. Since we began with football, what about the office football pool? Then there are the lotteries, casinos, horse racing, the big 6 wheel, online poker, the guy’s night out poker games, raffles, bingo and so on. Whether as a species, society or individual -- placing our future into the hands of fate or pure chance has become a “culture” all its own.

Moreover, it has become a form of “conditioned” behavior that generally takes place routinely and without questioning. From a business perspective, it is more aptly viewed as “Their gain... Our loss...” The casual posture which we have adopted compromises both our level of engagement and commitment to the work and life that is before us.

So, what is it that you really want to win at in life? Or your life’s work? What, if anything, are you willing to lose at? These are not easy questions to answer. Then again, neither is life itself “easy”. The truth be told, you don’t want to lose at anything that you do. Right?

However, this cavalier attitude that we possess allows the element of chance to unduly influence our lives -- thereby skewing our attitudes, expectations and future performance in the arenas of both life and work. Can you think, see and believe in yourself as a winner? At the personal level, what would constitute a “win” for you? What would that win look like? Can you actually define it?

What about your decision making? Are you making what amounts to more or less random decisions? Or are they thorough and calculated? How is your decision making affecting your ability to determine what the real “priorities” in your life and work are?

While the coin has two distinct sides which are represented by heads and tails, everything in life is not quite so contrasting. Literally, everything is not black and white, hot or cold. For most of us, life and work are lived in the shades of gray that lie in between -- and in a rather lukewarm manner of existence. This is the spawning ground for complexity and uncertainty, which ultimately confront us with the more difficult decisions with which we are faced.

In the end, it is our own individual responsibility to be accountable for the life we choose to live, the quality of the work we perform each day and the decisions we’ve made. In life you can hideout for a time, but this responsibility is a cataclysmic destination at which we all eventually arrive. Given the times in which we are now living, it may just be a sound idea to start assuming this self responsibility head on.

With this in mind...

» How can you prepare for yourself to “win” more often in the future?
» How can you ethically better your odds for winning in the future?
» How can you improve your win-loss ratio going forward?
» How can you increase the likelihood of your future success?

I would offer two suggestions:

» First, don’t leave anything to chance. Start making a real plan for your life.
» Second, adopt an appropriate strategy for creating a “win” by doing What’s Important Now!

Then again... I do have one final piece of advice... amend the first suggestion... Step Up... Step Out... and take a chance on yourself!

As always, I’m here to help.

Copyright © 2009 Executive Coaching International | Thomas H. Swank, Executive Coach. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Thomas H. Swank is a top ranked Executive Business Coach and Motivational Speaker. Mr. Swank is the President of Executive Coaching International, DevelopingForward.com and the Founder of the “A Priority Life” and “A Priority Business” self development and personal improvement programs.

Tom’s original content “The Coach’s Perspective” and “Results By Design” newsletters are enjoyed by a rapidly growing global readership audience. Contact Tom by telephone at (843) 347-1800 or email at Tom@APriorityLife.com