Crippled CEO Blog #104:
Two days ago was the 10 year anniversary of my mom passing away.
It definitely doesn’t seem like 10 years.
It also, simultaneously, feels like an entire lifetime.
In a lot of ways, I am not the same person she last had a conversation with. And it’s easy to think that the person I am now is the true, finished version, but I’ve lived long enough to realize that I will be somebody else, with different hobbies, beliefs, and obsessions, 10 years from now (I’ll actually probably be dead, like my mom, in 10 years, but that’s besides the point).
But there are a lot of things that are still the same as the son she knew, and I’m grateful for those as well.
But that’s not what this post is about today.
My mom loved blackjack. She loves the game, but more importantly, she loved socializing with the people at the table.
And my dad also liked blackjack. I was taught the rules and the nuances of correct play from a very early age, and on cruises, we would often take part in blackjack tournaments where all three of us would end up placing.
I also love poker, Texas Hold ‘Em specifically.
So, in honor of my amazing mother, I wanted to relay a lesson that she taught me through blackjack and poker.
You cannot base the quality of your decisions on the quality of the outcome.
In chess, if you play all of the very best moves, you will win.
In chess, you have all of the information available on those 64 squares. There is nothing random. There’s no luck. The quality of your decisions directly leads to the quality of the outcome.
But life isn’t like chess.
Life has lots of unknown variables and randomness.
Like poker and blackjack.
In both those games, you can play perfectly, you can make every correct decision, and still lose. And likewise, you can also do everything wrong and still win.
It is easy to learn the wrong lessons from this. You can justify your terrible play by pointing out the result. You can also decide that what you do doesn’t matter, because in the end, it might not. And you can pick up bad habits based on these individual anecdotes.
But this doesn’t work long-term. If you successfully drove through a red light once, and then got hit by a car driving through a greenlight, you shouldn’t start only driving through red lights. That’s a terrible idea.
But just like people do this in blackjack and poker, which drove my mom insane, people do it in real life, as well. They look exclusively at the outcome, and decide their success or failure by that.
In blackjack/poker, you can lose a lot of hands and still win the tournament. Life works the same way. Losing doesn’t have to mean failure. For me, failure comes from making bad decisions. If I lose every now and again, in cards, life, business, and so on, but my decisions were correct — I’m still winning. Eventually.
Because, once again, doing the right thing really is always the right thing.
(Do you know who makes me make lots of bad decisions? Your mom. She’s the worst. One correct decision that she makes, though, is subscribing to get this blog each week by sending a text to 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. You should try it, too.)