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Play Your Cards Right

Date - 20 July 2016/ Category - Personal Lessons
Personal lessons

In the previous chapter I mentioned the fact that we’re all dealt cards in life and that it’s our job to play those cards as best we can.

It’s simply not beneficial to stand around and wish we had someone else’s cards.

Now we see cards being dealt all the time and yet we don’t realise it. Take for example world class footballers. Their skillset didn’t just come from lessons, they were born with a gift and by honing and refining that gift they reached the pinnacle of football.

From a young age scouts spot a footballers potential and help them to improve upon their natural ability, yet in other aspects of life we leave it until late in life to realise what we do best.

What you really need to do early on is figure out what your cards are and give yourself a head start.

Try asking yourself the questions like what are you good at? What are you bad at? What start in life did you get?

Here’s my answers.

I’m great at creating a solution. I’m good at putting a solution into action and I’m bad at the boring day to day management of that action (biased maybe?).

So how would I play those cards right? Well I would find a problem and solve it, but once it’s solved, bring in someone to manage that solution so that I could move onto the next one.

Playing your cards right at their basic level is as simple as that. Work on improving the things you’re good at, and outsource the ones you’re not. There’s simply no point trying to get blood from a stone!

Now there is a slight problem here, if you’re a small business then you’ll have to get good at the things you’re bad at, but then again once you start to expand you also know the first places you will need to recruit for too; for me it’s a day to day person every time.

Provided you always bring in people that do the bad things better than you then you’re recruitment is on the right track.

Now you’ll note I said the words “at a basic level”; and that’s where it starts to get difficult.

You see our entire lives and everyone we meet is skewed by more complicated situations.

As human beings, the cards we have and the ones we want people to see are often different; how often do you see people drive cars they can hardly afford just to give the impression they are doing better than they are? How often to successful people play down the sheer blind luck they encountered or step up in life they were granted. It’s like life is one big game of poker.

Take for example Donald Trump – did you know he was the son of a multi-millionaire investor? How well would your business idea do if your dad gave you millions on your 18th birthday?

Another example would be Alan Sugar. Now for the record I love Lord Sugar’s first autobiography and he’s actually one of my heros. But Lord Sugar started out selling things door to door pre-mainstream distributors. In effect, his business model worked because it was suited to its time. If you were to take his business model now and copy it you would fail; in that respect then, your cards are also affected by the decade or location in which you are based.

That doesn’t mean he’s not good at what he does, but what it does mean is that Alan played his cards right “at that time”. Perhaps if his time was different, or he were born in a different country things would have played out differently.

People all over the world aren’t just born with cards that dictate their talents, they’re born with cards that reflect the world around them too.

Take my daughter for example, she’s been born into a family that can provide her with an education, great hobbies, running water, shelter and a huge economy; but others aren’t so lucky. Right now there is a war going on in Syria; children born there don’t have any security or hope of an education.

The sad fact is, a more capable and brilliant little girl born right now in Syria, no matter how hard she tries or wonderful her ideas are, is much less likely to be a success than my own daughter; yet it’s amazing how easily we forget how fortunate we are even from birth.

And that for me is a real issue. Mainstream media likes to tell us that successful people know what they are doing. It likes to remove the element of luck that comes with our cards from the equation but the truth is that given a different decade, different parents or different butterfly effects (e.g that one piece of luck that meant they could do something) then they might not have succeeded.

No one wants to say it, but the likes of facebook were more down to luck of the draw than individual brilliance. Many more talented people have been and will be born that will never obtain even a fraction of the success despite applying more effort.

The world would have you think that Alan Sugar is the end result of years of hard work but that’s not quite true. Yes he worked his socks off. Yes he is a very good businessman, but do you know what, there are many more people who are just as capable and tried just as hard but never got rich.

The fact is there’s lots of opportunities out there, but not enough for everyone. Only a few people can win at the card game that is life.

In life we judge peoples greatness by the fortunes they make but sadly for one reason or another some great people never make a fortune.

I can only really explain this through my own example. I worked in two industries over the space of 10 years. Eight years in one and two years in the other.

For the first eight years I worked 17 hours a day for a profit margin of 10%. For the last 2 years I worked 7 hours a day for a profit margin of 500%.

The world would eternally judge the last two years as a roaring success. Yet in both instances it was the same person doing the work. Terms like “good businessman” would be applied to anything they wrote about the last 2 years, yet for the first 8 “dismal failure” would precede any articles.

Yet there was less effort and less brain power needed to make that 500% than the 10%.

The fact is, the only thing to change was the industry and the price people were willing to pay.

The film black mass sums this fact of life up perfectly “it’s not what you do that’s important, it’s when and who you do it to that counts”; and that flies in the face of what every politician and start up magazine will tell you.

There are loads of talented business people who for one reason or another are devoted to a low profit industry, destined never to make a great fortune and set never to be written into the history books.

Yet I wonder, how many lessons learnt could we gleam from these people? It’s a shame that their words of wisdom will never be collected for the greater good of those that follow.
I’ll end this chapter with a story about a trip back home I took at the start of my switch to the 500% industry.

I met up with a friend and his dad. They ran a waste management business and upon me telling them that I had changed direction, they enquired why such a rich industry would be interested in me; to date all I had done was fail.

It was their assumption that anyone in the 500% profit world must be some sort of demi god; way out of my rather meager league.

Yet the opposite was true. There was so much profit that the people working in that industry didn’t need to try.

It had never experienced failure and never needed to accumulate wisdom. As a result the industry was bloated with experienced but wisdom deprived individuals and my skill set was severely needed.

Like my friend and his dad, in the media it seems a widely assumed view that the richest in society are the best at everything, but in my experience they are often not.

Wealth brings complacency, and it’s only when profitable industries hit the rocks that the people that work in them get found out. Right now the people that work in these high profit industries can command whatever salary they want; but that doesn’t mean they’re worth it.

That’s why rich industries can fall so far so quickly, because when faced with failure they buckle under the weight of experience and wages that lacks the benefit of wisdom.

Chapter summary:

• You don’t realise how lucky you are
• The world likes to obscure it’s cards
• Great people are judged by the fortune they make, but not all great people make a fortune
• Rich industries are bloated with poor employees
• Wisdom is cultivated in low profit industries

Read our next blog post “Surround yourself with positive people”.