The best hand in poker is the oh-so-rare Royal Flush. If you have one, you’re guaranteed to win the hand. But if you wait for that 1 in 650,000 chance before making a bet, you’re never going to win the game. In poker, as in business, you can’t sit idly by and wait for the perfect situation to occur; you have to take action.
In business, the prize rarely goes to those who sit and wait.
Take Heidi. She was working at the largest food company on the East Coast when a rare divisional VP of Marketing spot opened up. There were six or seven strong candidates for the job.
One day, Heidi asked a friend at work if there had been any decision about the new VP spot. There hadn’t been. Her friend, a senior director who also happened to be a very aggressive poker player, said, “Why don’t you just ask for it?”
Heidi thought she was nuts. Management knew she wanted the job; how could she possibly inﬂuence their decision? Her friend said, “You have nothing to lose, and besides, if you’re not happy with the answer, at least you know where you stand and can start networking.”
Heidi decided to be bold and went in to make her pitch for the position to the divisional President. In the end, the leader said, “I’m so glad you came in here and told me you want the job. It shows you’re assertive and know what you want. That’s a sign of great leadership.”
Three weeks later, Heidi was the new VP.
Here’s how to prepare to make your move:
- Increase your chances of winning.
- In poker, taking action is often simply observing the table dynamics or putting in a small “feeler” bet to get a read on the players. Don’t be a passive spectator. Pay attention so you know when you have the best odds to make a move.
- Don’t let fear of failure stop you.
- A huge factor in hesitation to act is fear of doing the wrong thing or making a mistake. And yes, that can happen. But so what? You learn and you move on. Taking a chance doesn’t guarantee success, but doing nothing is invariably the worst thing you can do.
- Recognize the importance of timing, but don’t wait for the “perfect moment.”
- A really good poker player will only play about 20 percent of the hands they’re dealt. In the same way, you should be poised to act but patient enough to choose your moment. Don’t try to bluff a player on a winning streak or ask for a raise when your company is in a financial downturn. But if you have a good read on the situation and the odds look reasonable, then it’s time to act.
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