I bet you have heard the phrase “You have to play with the hand you’re dealt”.  If you think about that statement it can be really suppressive. Does that mean that you are limited to your perceived capabilities; that you can never really exceed some imaginary ceiling? In the game of cards when a person is dealt a hand they have a choice; play them, fold or draw from the stock. A good player is always thinking ahead. The object is to have the best hand, in other words a combination of cards stronger than your competitors. In the game you draw cards and discard them trying to improve your hand. If you are fortunate enough to draw the right combination of cards you win the hand. That’s a lot like life if you think about it.

We are each dealt a hand when we are born. My hand looked like this. My mom had a reasonable labor, I was born healthy, and both my parents loved me. That was my first hand dealt from the dealer. Keeping with the card analogy, the rest of the deck awaited me as I grew. This was in card terms my stock, my life stock. As time went on I would be able to draw from that stock and create a discard pile as I saw fit. This is where I began to make decisions on which cards were keepers and which cards should be discarded. I picked up some strong cards along the way like respect, honor, and the pursuit of knowledge. At an early age, I was building a strong hand with the help of influences in my life. Then things changed, in my teenage years I drew from the pile and one day I picked up the Joker card. The Joker intrigued me, he was in a disguise, colorful, mischievous looking. Being inexperienced in the game I decided not to discard him, but rather to hold on to him. Before long my focus was less on rescpect, honor, and knowledge and more on living (playing the game) for today. What things would instantly satisfy me.

As the years went by I kept picking up and discarding cards, often time finding myself with a weak hand compared to those around me. I spent a lot of time feeling less than and angry about others success. I started to believe the saying; “You have to play with the hand you’re dealt”. 

As I scanned the cards in my hand it hit me that the Joker card was also a wildcard. A wildcard in the game of cards can be transformed into any card the player chooses with no restrictions. It was my time to decide what I would do with this opportunity. Would I continue to see it as a Joker or would I turn it into an Ace.

It was time to leverage the card as an Ace in my hand. For me that Ace came in the form of a boss. I was royally messing up a great job. I was frequently seen as a rebel without a cause in the workplace. One day I went to her and said “Help”. Simply just help. I could not under my own direction understand why I was being passed up on promotions, why I was not being selected to for special projects. Why was I seen as a mediocre employee. That began a journey for me of understanding that yes some cards are dealt to me, others I pick up from the stock, and there will always be times that I need to discard those cards (traits) that weaken my hand. Through this mentorship I began to understand how to play not the hand dealt to me but the entire deck. Today I am a better man, leader, and friend because of this experience. When I see others feeling limited by the old adage “You have to play with the hand you’re dealt” I am quick to share with them the wisdom parted to me by that very special boss who saw something in me I could not see in myself.

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