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Logo Logo Nick Hodges

Coin Flip Decisions

/ 2 min read

In the summer of 1986, I was teaching high school at the great Pasadena High in Pasadena, Texas. I as 24 going on 17, and the students were largely 16 going on 35, and so it wasn’t working great for me. While I enjoyed my time there, and have many wonderful friends as a result, teaching was not for me, and so I decided to join the military.

I applied to both the Navy and the Air Force Officer programs, and was accepted by both. So I had a decision to make, and I had no idea how to make it.

I called my mom, and she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

She told me “You are basically choosing between Harvard and Yale, so flip a coin.” Yeah, she literally told me to flip a coin.

Now, flipping a coin to make a major life decision seems a bit capricious and reckless. I mean, how do you leave such a big thing to chance? But she convinced me to just try it and see what happened. My mom was wise and smart.

So I broke out a quarter, said “Heads Navy, tails Air Force” and gave it a flip.

And a strange thing happened. While the coin was in the air, my brain was screaming “Please please please come up heads!” And I knew I had to join the Navy. The simple act of flipping the coin was quite clarifying. Thanks, Mom.

And for the record, I never looked at how the coin toss turned out.