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…

Opportunities, Adapted, Luck, Style


  1. Awesome thinking! Hats-off! I strongly believe that it is all about perceptions. How you perceive Life. If Life is a race then you will always keep running greedy and needy and never be at peace. Would suggest to go with life at ease. Stay cool, be in every moment and live that moment.

  2. “Heads I Lose, Tails You Win ”
    Apt title tot he story …

  3. In other words, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

  4. The best one as always…

  5. Loved it !!

  6. Sir,

    I think we have to stick with whatever choices we have chosen and put trust on it.

  7. hey Arun, very true… nicely articulated that I have seen in the last 31 years. Apple & Steve Jobs is a classic example for the Success and Nokia is for its own failure…. for an example….

  8. Respected sir,
    This is really good story which covey the message that stick with particular choices we made and should have to put trust on it……

  9. Very True! Life is not always about rushing to conclusions based on what what you see

  10. Nicely thought title!

    While contemplating the given choices, it is best to carefully thinkover the deal that is offered and also the pros and probable cons of it.
    Good learning from this article.

  11. Nice story !Captures attention till the end…I think it has got to do with application of faculty called as “Vievka” or discrimination in simple words. Rather it is a state of mind wherein one discriminates to arrive at right decision…

  12. Nicely presented and written in simple words. Quite an eye opener and things to ponder on while taking decisions in life.

  13. Below are some pointers from my side-
    -Important thing is satisfaction. Our soul could be satisfied by getting very little in life.
    -A man may not get satisfied even if he gets the best Princess. [Feelings of a loser come to us when we start comparing]
    -Even if we get the best deal- there is still a scope to think that the other party has cheated us.
    [In this story, both the men can placate themselves by thinking that the chief didn’t cheated them- ‘According to him, her daughter was very beautiful (which actually is, for every father) and bull dung was gold according to them (yellow gold may be not that much worthy for them). It’s true that he risked his life for it. However, that was only a consolation prize and prize is priceless)]…And they must move on (without looking back).

  14. Good one, very tricky though….. At times you have full control on the choice you make, but almost no control on the consequence of the choice.

  15. Good One.

  16. Wonderful article

  17. nice article Arun sir

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Heads I Lose, Tails You Win - Arun Nathani Blog