The twists and turns of working life sometimes reflect life inside a casino. The cards you're dealt so often offer the promise of untold wealth and riches and yet the odds are always stacked in favour of the house.
Should you stick or twist, draw from the deck or just let it ride? The trouble is that there's often just too much choice. Choice creates uncertainty and uncertainty challenges the very fabric of our own self-assuredness and self-belief.
"I'd just like to be sure that I'm right," we hear ourselves say, time and time again. But in that moment, opportunity passes us by. Just like the spin of the wheel or the throw of the dice, the choices we make are often followed by a terse admonishment of "if only". If only I'd gone with my instinct; if only I'd given it a little more thought.
The world of "if only" is one with which most of us are all too familiar. Often it reflects some form of poor decision-making on our behalf - as if we should be endowed with some instinctive gift of hindsight which allows us to make the correct choices every time.
This is why I invented the 51:49 rule.
This rule is based on the principle that people make decisions and choices about practically everything, every day. Even if the decision is to do nothing and make no decision, that's still a decision.
Everyone's scale of choice is always at 100 per cent. The 51:49 rule stipulates that over time, the balance of good and bad decisions and choices will even itself out to something like 51 per cent good and 49 per cent poor choices.
This may vary a percentage point or two, but overall they will end up something close to that average.
Now, to most people, this will seem like a pretty poor average. Most of us would argue that our proportion of good choices is something like 60-65 per cent. That's fair enough. We often assume a more inflated perspective to reflect our own delusions and self-importance.
But like it or not – and doesn't everyone want to be seen as the inveterate winner – the reality will be closer to 51:49 than we may care to admit.
Let's just reflect for a moment, what the 51:49 rule actually implies. It actually means that everyone's a winner, because if you're right 51 per cent of the time, it means that you're still two points up on the house and that puts you ahead, even though 49 per cent of your choices were poor.
That being the case, it is vital that we reflect on and learn from the poor choices we have made. Even making poor choices means that you're exercising your prerogative to make choices. Consequently, making poor choices is inevitable – yet this also offers an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, something that is in itself a good and positive choice.
Casinos work on the principle that most gamblers will push their luck beyond the point of 51:49 and end up on the wrong side of the formula. As a consequence, the house is gifted the formula and tends to win more times than it loses.
In our working lives, however, we tend to be rather more conservative when it comes to risk – which means that we often excuse ourselves from the opportunity of learning from our mistakes. This, in turn, loads the dice against us making correct choices in future even as they become more and more critical in our mindset.
And so we become trapped in an ever decreasing circle until we find ourselves boxed in and unable to move at all. Working life is filled with such individuals, many of whom are reaching or have reached the peak of their chosen profession.
Boxed in and with the perception that they have increasingly limited choices, is it any surprise that they turn to consultants, coaches, counsellors and mentors to guide them out of the maze of dead-end options, to discover what it used to be like when making decisions was a simple matter of making a choice?