Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

When I was in high school, when a conflict arose, I would take out a coin and say, “Okay, let’s flip a coin to decide. Heads I win, tails you lose.” Believe it or not, it worked about 20% of the time. A teacher admonished me for my bit of clever sleight of hand. As he left, he said, “Crazy Kid!” I am not sure if it was a compliment or not. (It wasn’t.)

There is an old curmudgeon in Edmonds that has had a sign in his yard for years that says: “Alaska Airlines, scum of the skies” and another that says, “Boycott Alaska Airlines.” I fly every week. It took me years to decide who my two favorite airlines were. It came down to the people. #1 is Delta, #2 is Alaska. They have GREAT People! I am certain most people, fully 80%, dismiss the codger’s sign, shake their head and laugh. I do. Surely, he must have been a crazy kid when he was young. My dad used to call guys like that, “A Kook”. THAT used to make me laugh. What is a “Kook”? The Urban Dictionary defines it as “Someone regarded as strange, eccentric or crazy.”

Each of us has a negative two-headed coin in our pocket at any given time.I call it the NMA coin. Negative Mental Attitude. One side has Resentment, the other side, Self-Pity.

Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Some people carry old resentments for years. Actors Marlon Brando and
Rod Steiger got into an argument in 1953 while filming the classic film, “On the Waterfront”. They didn’t speak for 44 years! The ran into each other in 1997 in a Chinese Restaurant. “What did we argue about?” Steiger asked Brando. “I donʼt remember,” Marlon replied. “We should have lunch sometime,” Steiger said. Brando nodded in agreement. Groucho Marx was right, “Time wounds all heals.” What a waste. Ego, pride, fear, anger, all conspires to prevent healing.

Self-Pity is a black hole. It has an insatiable appetite for sympathy and attention. It is the hallmark of immaturity. “Get off the cross,” my friend said to me one day when I was having a pity party, “We need the wood!” I WAS a crazy kid. The false comfort of Self-Pity screens me from reality. Both Self-Pity and Resentment are two side of the same coin. We have a choice. There is another option, a different coin. PMA. Positive Mental Attitude. This choice has four parts. L-4. Laugh. Learn. Love. Legacy.

  1. Laugh it off. Don’t take it all so seriously. No one here gets out alive. Laugh at yourself. Be the first one to make fun of your mistakes. We all make them. Itʼs amazing how differently we feel when we look back at something that had us twisted up in knots a few days before.
  2. Learn from your mistakes. When you mess up, admit it. There is a message in your mess. Strive to make NEW Mistakes, not the same old ones. Life is short. You are human. You are going to slice in the woods, drop the ball, fall short. Take personal responsibility for all your actions and decisions. Capture the lesson in your journal and move on.
  3. Love thy Neighbor. Have Empathy. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Take a minute and think of things from their perspective. You never know what someone else is going through. Twenty years ago, when I was a brand new sales person, a prospect stood me up. I called him the next day. He was distraught. His wife had died the day of our meeting. You just never know.
  4. Leave a Legacy. How do you want to be remembered? In the end, we are judged by our actions, not intentions. Are you compassionate? Caring? Kind? Understanding? Appreciative? Respectful? Emerson wrote, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.”

Take it from a former “Crazy Kid” who is striving not to be a “Kook”. Having a PMA is better than a NMA. It is a choice. Toss that coin of Resentment and Self-Pity in the trash. Better still; give it to the old curmudgeon or crazy kid in your neighborhood. They will use it. You can’t afford to keep it.

The coin in my pocket now is: “Heads YOU Win, Tails I do too!” Let me buy you a cup of coffee. Let me tell you about my recent flight on Alaska Airlines. They rock!

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