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Heads or Tails

How I used a coin toss to help me decide whether or not to go and work for the Governer of Colorado last year.

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Last December I received a call from (at the time) Governor-Elect Jared Polis. He asked me to consider two positions in his cabinet. One was (and the one I was most energized by) the Executive Director for the Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA). 

I felt honored to receive the call, and set about the application and interview process. 

I had transitioned from my career in the private sector the previous year and the thought of serving in the public sector felt challenging, inspiring and exciting. 

In the weeks that followed, I set about preparing for the interview. I familiarized myself with the purpose and function of DPA. I read about Governor-Elect Polis’ background and his entrepreneurial journey. I watched his State of the State address and printed out the manuscript after the speech. I then spent part of my weekend reading through it (14 pages in case you’re wondering) and highlighting where I believed DPA and his vision intersected. 

I wanted to show up prepared to discuss how I could serve his administration and his vision. Admittedly, you would’ve thought I was preparing for a policy session, but that’s beside the point. 

The day of my interview with Governor Polis and his Chief of Staff came. It was an insightful and great conversation. As we wrapped, he shared it would be a few weeks before they made their decision between myself and the other finalist. 

In the weeks that followed, I thought about the opportunity, what I had learned during my research about the department, my conversation with the Governor and the likelihood of scaling back my Coaching and Consulting practice for a few years, should I be offered the position. 

If I was going to say yes, it was going to be a ‘hell yes’ because that’s core to who I am as a person. I’m either engaged 100% or not engaged at all. 

Going to work for the Governor would mean I’d be able to take my skills and experience from my 17 years in the private sector and apply them to the public sector. 

Not going to work for the Governor would mean I’d continue to build my practice and either way I’d be waking up every day to fulfill my life mission of being a guide to others along their journey to discover, embrace and celebrate their innate worth so they can achieve the impossible and impact the world. 

I thought about the two choices before me, over and over and over again. I was torn and knew that I needed to be clear on my decision regardless of the Governors because I have made a commitment to live a created life, not a reported on life. I create my life, life doesn’t create me. 

I decided to bring up this “quality problem” to my Coach because admittedly the thought of discussing it with any of my friends felt strange. After a few minutes of dialogue, I believe it became clear to him just how torn I was. He paused and said, “do you have a coin near you?” 

Me: “Yes, let me grab it.”

Him: “Ok, it’s clear that you believe you will enjoy either direction you take. So, let’s let the universe decide.”

Me: Huh? Ok. What does that mean?

Him: “Decide whether heads is going to work for the Governor, or not going to work for the Governor.”

Me: “Ok, heads means I go to work for the Governor.”

Him: “Now, get ready to flip the coin.”

Me: “Got it.” I flip the coin, look down, and see it landed on tails. I look up and say, “it’s tails.” 

Him: “Ok. Now, tell me what you felt in your body, the moment you saw that it was tails.” 

Me: “Relief”.

Spoiler alert: The other candidate was ultimately offered the position. 

The coolest part about this story is how powerful (and simple) the coin exercise was. Here’s why. 

Regardless of what side the coin landed on, I was obviously free to make whatever choice I wanted. The powerful part was in me observing my feelings about the outcome, in this case, relief. My “gut feeling” alerted me to the right decision. 

My first reaction to it landing on tails (not going to work for the Governor) tapped into deep wisdom because my body used all of the subconscious information I had logged away to inform me about something before my brain had an opportunity to second-guess it. 

So, the next time you’re torn between two choices that seem of equal merit, try flipping a coin. If you feel relief at the side that lands – awesome. If you feel uneasy at the side that lands, go with the opposite choice.

“Sometimes the exact thing we need is to go beyond our thinking mind.”

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