The Cards You’re Dealt vs. the Cards You Draw

On our recent family vacation to Folly Beach, SC, we were stuck inside for a couple days.  The first day was due to a tropical depression and a later day to recover from some sunburn.

Enterprising dad that I am, I took some time to learn some new card games with my kids.  We played Crazy Eights and a fun little game called Garbage, but our favorite was Gin Rummy.

We found that it had just the right mix of strategy and luck with the added bonus that each deal took some time to resolve.  That meant we didn’t spend time shuffling and reshuffling the deck.  Since neither of my kids can shuffle very well, that last point was a big deal to me.

In case you don’t know how to play Gin Rummy, you try to build the best hand by finding combinations of cards: either three or more of the same value (e.g., three kings) or three or more cards in a row with the same suit.

What I particularly like about the game is that you are constantly shifting your strategy based on what you are dealt and the next card that you draw.  You might start with one plan and then need to shift quickly if a new card came your way.

Fast forward to the beginning of this week, I had big plans to finish writing a guide to financial planning fees.  In fact, I had specifically blocked all of Monday and most of Tuesday to complete the final draft and make any necessary edits.  All of that changed when I received a call on Sunday night from my parents who were stranded in Bristol, Tennessee by a malfunctioning engine on their camper van.

Helpful son that I am, I agreed to drive two hours to pick up my mom and their dog while my dad stayed at the repair facility.  Needless to say, I drew a card that didn’t really fit my strategy as Monday morning was spent driving to Bristol and back to Knoxville. It was pretty easy to fall into a mindset of grumbling and frustration.

But taking a lesson from Gin Rummy, I quickly shifted my strategy.  Instead of spending Monday hunched over my keyboard, I used that time to think through the guide’s structure, identify a few missing pieces, and formulate how to re-allocate the time remaining in the week.

Consequently, I returned to the office with a clear head and well-crafted plan on what I needed to do to finish the guide ahead of schedule.

What about you?  How do you react when you draw a card that you weren’t expecting?

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