Poker and Commitment

I don’t play poker, and I don’t pretend to know much about it, but there are a few things I have gleaned from movies and television to be able to say some things with a certain level of certainty.

1. Your hand is yours, and what you choose to do with it is a personal decision. No one can “force your hand” or make you participate. How much you bet, if you choose to fold, and whether or not to “raise” are all options that you consider in your mind before you act.

2. What you choose to show others about what you’ve got, via your facial expressions, is totally up to you. Sometimes, the people around you can figure out what’s going on, but they don’t always get the whole story.

3. A lot of what goes on in the game has to do with you responding to your surroundings. Sometimes, even when things get bad, how we come out on the other end has everything to do with how we reacted to our environment.

Can you see where this is going? Good. emoticon

1. I think when we take on challenges in life, like getting fit and staying healthy, we operate in the same way as we would in a game of poker, with a few, key deviations. No one can force me to make healthy choices with food or exercise. No one can get me involved in activities that promote good behavior. Ultimately, only I can make myself run “just one more mile.”

2. What we decide to share with people makes us vulnerable. When we let people around us know how we are really feeling, if we are struggling, and when we’re in pain leaves us open to criticism, but it also opens us up to support and love. It gives us the opportunity to make our game a team sport. We move from poker, a very competitive one on one event, to an odd form of solitaire, where our closest friends hold extra cards and help play in our best interest. Instead of hiding what we’ve got and what we need, our game goes faster and we are more likely to succeed; our odds of winning increase tenfold!

(The following statement may strike you the wrong way. It’s merely my opinion based on my own experiences.)
We should take caution, however. The more people who are contributing directly to our success, may decrease the amount of involvement we actually feel we had. If I let 30 people speak into how I am working my program, I may not feel as much of an accomplishment as I would if I had one or 2 trusted friends advising me and cheering me on. We need to take some advice, the parts that work for us, and graciously decline the rest. The 30 may have the best intentions, but without knowing my hand they could be harming me in the process of trying to help.
I have found that I have the highest level of success when I chose a few close friends to listen to and trust, and keep the rest of the onlookers in the stands, cheering me on.

3. Environment. This morning I got a clear look at what happens when our commitment to win clashes with the surroundings we’ve been given. I went for my morning run, because I was determined that that is what I wanted to do today. As I’m running laps around the lake the clouds and wind start to roll in. At first I think to myself that this isn’t that bad and I am stronger than the wind. Making another lap around I look down at the hand I was dealt and then up at The Dealer. Crap. Sometimes you just can’t win every round. I folded my hand and went home. What a healthy lesson this is. Sometimes, it’s ok to try and give it my all and cash out. It doesn’t mean that I failed; it just means that it wasn’t in the cards at this time.

Luckily, I don’t play alone.

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