Picking a Winner
The other day I lost £10 at the races. I was convinced that despite the odds I was going to pick the winner. How wrong I was. Wouldn’t it be great to predict the future? Imagine all the success at the races. Never again would you lose money. You could go to Las Vegas – the world would be your oyster.
Or would it be great to predict the future?
Taking the Fun Out of the Game
Recently whilst at a hotel we played at the Casino. It wasn’t a real Casino; we were given fake gambling chips (they were worthless). Playing black jack was a bit of fun and I wasn’t much good. At one point the dealer obviously took pity. Just as I was about to ‘twist’ a new card he let me see its value to prevent me from going bust. In that instance the ‘fun’ was taken out of the game.
Knowing the value of the next card meant I could never lose. You would think that would be a great place to be. But actually if you know exactly what’s happening next, the excitement seems to evaporate.
This got me thinking – maybe it’s not such a good thing to be able to predict the future.
Make the Most of the Present
Coaching is all about helping people create a compelling and fulfilling future. There is however a difference between creating a future and ‘knowing’ the future. Abraham Heschel is quoted as saying, “No one can write his autobiography in advance”. The reality of the situation is that there are elements of our life which we cannot predict. Some of life’s challenges, like illness, redundancy and loss often creep up unannounced. If we were given the opportunity of looking at the next card, like the dealer at the black jack table, would that make our lives any better? Does ‘knowing’ the future help?
It was whilst waiting for my piano exam the other day that I received the answer to this question. A lovely elderly gentleman was signing in the students for the exam.
Whilst he was showing me the way to the practice room we got talking. “Of course,” he said, “I won’t be doing this job for much longer.” I asked him what he meant and he said, “Well I only have a year to live.”
His answer took me by surprise. He said it in such a matter-of-fact way as though he were saying he was going to retire, or to emigrate.
My face must have given away my concern because he quickly reassured me not to worry. “I’ve got cancer and the doctor has only given me a year. However I think I’m lucky to know. I’ve got a year to put my affairs in order, to say my goodbyes and to really enjoy the people I love and care for.” Looking into his eyes I realised there wasn’t a hint of sadness there. He meant every word of what he was saying.
Maybe it isn’t about whether we know the future or not. The real question to ask is, “are we making the most of the present regardless of what life deals us?”