Anton: “Let me ask you something. What’s the most you’ve ever lost in a coin toss?”
Gas station proprietor “Look I need to know what I stand to win.”
Anton: “Everything. Just call it.”
This is life.
“Every step that you take could be your biggest mistake. I could bend or it could break. That’s the risk you take. What if you should decide …” – Coldplay
… or your greatest adventure. This is true in business and personal decisions. To be successful you need to embrace change and compromise. Indecision of choice is can be fatalistic, don’t let others choose for you or demeaning-ly dictate to you. So when interviewing for a job, remember you are as much the interviewer as the human resource representative you are meeting with.
“When you’re being interviewed, ask the company to tell you about a time they promoted someone. What did the person do to stand out? You’ll learn if it’s meritocracy, nepotism, chronological, culture of unhealthy expectations…” Eric Arnold CEO at Planswell
Not planning for an interview that is to result in a mutually relationship or accepting work for merely for an income is all too often what transpires. Let’s face it, you have bills and everyone likes to eat. Compromise and acceptance of a situation can solve a person’s immediate condition and as such result in a complacent relationship (this happens in our personal lives equally). I’m not saying complacency is a bad thing, especially if it meets your expectations and your are where you want to be in life. What I am saying is don’t hesitate to expect more, don’t hesitate to ask the important questions up front. Equally ensure you have responses, courses of actions and contingency plans for these all too important decisions in life, especially if the answers aren’t what you want to hear or are less than your expectations. “So I’m gonna give you a piece of advice: Don‘t ask for something that it’s a burden to you if you get it.” – Jack Nicholson in Hoffa
I relate this to a recent experience where I failed to plan, so I failed at my short term goals and in doing so have compromised (momentarily) my long term goals. Briefly, I applied for a job where I would have time to work on other endeavors (it was basically just checking in on patients twice a night and staying awake in the event of any situations that might arise … I would have been a 3rd shift baby sitter). I was willing to accept the lower salary for the reduced expectations (although no less important) of a role. In the salary section of the application I entered $15/hr, I received the interview, was advised an offer was being extended following an extensive background check (this was a rehab facility for the rich and famous). So I was expecting (wrongly) HR was in line with what I thought my time was worth being the responsible and professional individual I am. I failed to adequately plan in the event the offer was less or the job description changed. As life goes HR offered $13/hr, being familiar with give and take I pointed out my expected hourly rate of $15/hr – the HR manager cut me short (snarkily) saying the salary wasn’t negotiable. “Okay” I responded, “Can I know more about the benefits?” Annoyed the manager asked if I’d like to think about it, naturally needing to access my dilemma of failing to plan for an immediate commitment I said “Sure, I’ll call you back later today.” After three days of phoning to make contact with the HR manager (same day and twice daily there after, and yes I left messages) I received a call back advising that since she hadn’t heard back from me “they decided to go a different direction” (ummm … whatever that means) and “the position is no longer available.”
I’m not certain if I lost perspective, failed to appear sincere or if there was never any intent to fill the position or some other nefarious underlying intent was there, but I didn’t plan on the outcome as it was, and was more than willing to accept less given the purpose of the job in my life at the time. I tossed the coin and I lost … or did I. Would the have become a burden had I of taken it? It was after all a hour and a half one way commute and working midnight to 8AM with the expectation of working overtime. Being a person driven to do the very best and contribute as much as possible it’s a coin toss given I extrapolate value out of the task more so than the money. Ahhh … the loss. Taking command of the resulting chaos, this experience has strengthened my resolve and I found myself moving forward with intent.
This idea of a coin toss, chaos and the lottery will come up again (except I’d rather talk about why the lottery of life is a losing bet and we’d be better off making an educated decision in the stock market of life). In the movie “No Country for Old Men“, the villian (Anton) believes his decision making “… is such a rote, regular, and thus meaningless act to him that on occasion he’s willing to leave it to chance, if only to make it interesting. Twice in the film he allows his potential victims a way out of their death sentences via the toss of a coin: once with the proprietor of a gas station early in the film, and again at the end once he’s finally found Carla Jean. The two scenes have [SPOILER] two different outcomes. In the former, the proprietor, unaware what hangs in the balance, calls the coin toss, it lands in his favor, and Chigurh leaves him alive. In the latter scene, Carla Jean knows exactly what hangs in the balance, like she knows the coin Chigurh asks her to call doesn’t matter. She doesn’t call it. Chigurh kills her anyway.” – Perry Horton
Understand what hangs in the balance. The only way to win the coin toss of life is to plan and understand the odds you are playing with, and what you stand to lose. The take away – plan, be resilient, understand both short term needs and long term objectives – and know where to compromise. Tomorrow is always another day to adjust your plan, and your levels of acceptance and compromise. … and spend your time wisely, not watching mindless horror movies that make you lose sleep. Sheesh. Now to plan something great.