Life is like a game of cards

Bet you thought I was going to say a box of chocolates, huh? Nope today I’m going with a deck of cards. Why? Well, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am definitely a sports fan. Right now in Cleveland, there’s a lot going on with our teams; Cavaliers are in the playoffs, Indians have started their season, Browns are in the news with the upcoming draft and the Monsters are in the playoffs. It got me to thinking about teams and teamwork and how important that is to success.  It doesn’t matter if it’s sports, work, home, church or community; being a good team and a good team player takes work.

So what's with the deck of cards analogy? Players come to a team (or a job) from different backgrounds, have different levels of skill, experience and knowledge, different viewpoints, values and attitudes. We all come to the table with our own specific hand of cards; sometimes we are a team member by choice while other times we are just thrown into the mix by circumstance. The expectation is that all the pieces parts will magically blend together to form a dream team destined for greatness. Right. Imagine it. You throw all those “cards” on the table in one big pile and you have one big mess; no rhyme or reason, no organization, no synergy and everyone going their own way, doing their own thing. There’s a formula for success – NOT!

Will there be conflict, tension, emotions, anger, lack of productivity and low morale? You bet. Will this team be successful? Not likely. So as a team leader how do you make it work? You play the hand you are dealt.  You take the resources you have available and optimize the situation. It’s not about the cards you have; it’s how you play them. What are your high cards and low cards? Do you have any pairs, any straights, any flushes? What are you going to do with them? Does each person on the team have a clearly defined role? Are you playing to your strengths? Are you willing to trade a “card” for a better fit? Can you make the tough decisions? Can you take all the differences and find common ground? Whether you are a team leader or a team player, you play the hand you’re dealt to the best of your ability. Some are dealt a great hand and waste it while others manage to turn a mediocre hand into a winner. I guess Kenny Rogers was right – “know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run.” Food for thought.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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