Skip to content

When Dealt Change, Play the Cards in Your Hand

While I’m not a savvy gambler with cards in the traditional sense, I am a consistent gambler in business as an entrepreneur. Perhaps we should retitle entrepreneurs to “business gamblers.” Not only is it easier to spell (I can’t be alone in using autocorrect heavily), but it’s more accurate. Up until recently, business owners were the main risk takers in the workplace. Now, every professional has been forced into a gamble with companies enacting layoffs, furloughs, and reducing pay. Individuals are now assessing critical moves in their previously stable careers. Do I stay with my company even though I’ve been furloughed? Do I see a future in my industry, or should I transition? Do I try a different type of job than the one I was laid off from? Do I like what I’m currently doing? Which is more valuable for my children’s future… reducing work hours to help with schooling or staying the course? My goodness, it’s no wonder we’re all so stressed and miserable.

My first reaction to the recent crisis was to complain about the situation I found myself. As co-founder of company focused on sourcing personnel for the energy industry, the crisis took the wind out of our sails quickly. So, yes, I had my own pity party for a few days. Okay, it was more like a few weeks of me sitting on my doghair-covered couch in yoga pants under quarantine feeling sorry for myself day after monotonous day. During the umpteenth bellyache session with a peer, I realized that I was bored of my own story. Hell, I was sick of hearing my own complaining about how the universe neglected to deal my preferred next card, a thriving energy market. In creeped a memory of my grandfather, Ted.

A salty lifetime Drilling Engineer for Marathon, he enjoyed some quality time up in Black Hawk gambling. A fun fact that my family wasn’t privy to until a company Christmas party at a casino aptly named Lady Luck. Surrounded by a gaggle of ladies from our office on the drive, Grandpa laid it on thick. “I’m not sure I’ll remember how to play cards like I used to in the old days,” he lamented. Soothing reassurances from the team came in warmly from the backseat to the 90-year-old in his Sunday’s finest. No sooner than we crossed the entry, a cocktail waitress approached our group smiling brightly, “Ted, welcome back did you want your usual?” A slanted smirk spread across his face as he nodded appreciatively. He was a damn sly fellow and a Lady Luck regular to boot.

Not surprisingly, he approached life with the similar tact of a man used to playing the cards he was dealt. I would say he even took pride in it. He could make most things work with some good old-fashioned engineering determination, F-bombs, and Duct tape. Although, we did our best to keep him away from anything plumbing-related for fear of a second great flood. He was successful, often without the part conventional wisdom said you needed (a college degree in engineering). How did he do it? I craved this ability.

Why can’t we all learn to play the cards in our hand to our advantage when it’s beneficial to do so in every situation? Yet, we often shrink back from action because circumstances aren’t ideal. Then we assign blame for the discrepancy and impasse. Cheryl Strayed aptly said, “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” No kidding. Honestly, it’s fun. Well, the challenge of identifying how best to play up your skills and where to focus your efforts is way more enjoyable than longing for an impossible, perfect scenario.

No alt text provided for this image


Taking the cue, I noticed that I had some respectable cards in my hand that were overlooked initially. For example, my decade of experience preparing individuals for interviews with clients. It was something, right? Actually, the more I considered it, that was a stellar card. Whitney and I could help in ways beyond just recruiting! We had helped thousands of professionals beef up their resumes, smooth out their interviewing conversations, and see alternative paths in their careers. This insight brought us around to develop, well take a gamble, on our job consulting services for professionals going through these tough transitions. I’m happy to report, it fills my cup every day in these dark times to be of use. Pride. Thanks grandpa.