Heads I Lose, Tails You Win
One day, two travellers arrive at a tribal village and are welcomed by the chief. After a warm welcome, the chief tells them “I have a wager for both of you. The winner gets my beautiful daughter’s hand and my inheritance. The loser gets a pot of gold”. It was a no-lose proposition. The generous offer reflected the chief’s good heart and wealth. Surely, the rich princess too would have her father’s heart of gold. Both men instantly agreed.
Lesson 1: Sometimes, life gifts us risk-free toss-ups. Grab both the options!
The chief instructs them, “I am going to release two bulls, one at a time. You have to grab the tail of any one of the two bulls to win”. The first man enters the arena. The barn door opens and out comes one of the biggest bulls he has ever seen. So he decides to let this one go, thinking the second one will be a better choice. The door opens again. The man smiles as he notices a very weak bull stumble out. He positions himself, jumps at the exact moment, and throws his hands to grab the tail. To his surprise this bull has NO Tail.
Lesson 2: Sometimes, life doesn’t give us a second chance. Always grab the first option!
The second man, watching from the sidelines, learns from the first man’s mistake. As soon as the first ferocious bull comes out, he jumps and grabs its tail with great deft and bravery. Amidst thundering applause, the chief walks over to congratulate him. Next to the chief was his very unpleasant and mean looking daughter!
Lesson 3: Sometimes, life is laying down a trap. Don’t grab the first or the second option!
As the disoriented man is coerced towards the wedding alter, elsewhere the first man, trekking back home curiously takes off the pot’s lid, and realizes that he had risked facing the bulls for nothing – the pot was filled with bull dung! The harsh realization dawns on the two men. The chief had no wealth, neither a suitor for his princess. He was in search of a brave man to head his depleting tribe and marry his mean daughter. The two travellers had been tricked!
The story is one, but the lessons are three, all contradicting. Why? Because we were in a hurry to draw lessons before the story was over. Just like the two strangers in a hurry to succeed before thinking through the chief’s bizarre offer. You see, our story was not about foolish pursuits of “opportunities”, rather wise pursuits of “due-diligence”. A timely diligence allows us to differentiate between an opportunity and a threat. For sometimes, discarding all the choices is a wise choice…