How is your Poker Face?

January 21st, 2010

Poker is considered by many to be a game of chance. Chance implies an outcome without an observable cause. Perhaps poker is really about knowing the odds and statistics. Less about luck and more about having experience and knowing what plays to make. Experience helps you do things on autopilot and anticipate what cards the other players probably have and whether your hand is better than your competition. The truth is, it takes a lot of repetition to get good at Poker. Bluffing your opponents could be considered an art form all to itself. You may have heard that we all have a “tell” when we have a good hand. You might smile or touch your ear. Great players work hard at knowing the “tell” of their competition. See where this might be heading?

I propose that running a business these days might be compared to a high stakes game of poker. The other players are your competition. Business should not be a game of chance. Rather, it should be played by knowing the rules, having the right information, and surrounding yourself with talent that can help you make the right moves in the game. Our current economy? Imagine that it is like a poker game that has gone on a little too long. The players are tired. They are beat up. They may have needed to be really conservative with their chips to not fall out of the game. As a business leader or small business owner it is entirely possible that you feel might feel like that poker player at the end of a 12 hour game!

So like the game when do you know you have a good hand? Is this the time that things are going to improve? Do you push all in because you sense the market is ripening? Do you continue to play the game conservatively and wait for the straight flush? Or do you play the hand you are dealt? All of this in the business world equates to making decisions about when the recession is over for you. Do you have the desire to grow again? Maybe you prefer the conservative style that you developed, out of necessity, over the last few quarters?

As a leader and coach I know this issue is on the mind of my customers and my network. When is it over? Do we make major investments now? Or small pilots to test the market? What are the other players in the game doing? Are they being conservative or aggressive?

So you are back at the card table and you are staring at your opponents &mdash’ are you all in or waiting for the next hand? Or have you already tipped your hand?

As always your emails and comments are terrific — keep them coming. Poker anyone?

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