There’s no question about it, running a business is tough. It needs many skills and qualities if you’re going to succeed and there are quite a few of them that no MBA or business school can teach you.
But there are other ways that you can acquire them, even in your leisure time. A great example of this is when you’re playing poker.
As we’re going to show you, it’s a game that needs a successful player to have many attributes that are easily transferable to business. What’s more, you can pick most of them up whether you’re playing in a live game or even on a real money poker site.
In fact, the latter might be even better as it can be fitted into a busy day whenever it’s most convenient. It will also expose you to a wide range of games that might, like business, need subtly different techniques if you’re going to succeed.
So how exactly will playing help? Well, here are six ways to set you off.
Calculating The Odds of Success
At its heart, poker is a very simple game and, once you’ve mastered the hierarchy of hands, it’s easy to work out how strong your hand is. But it’s also a game that provides you with incomplete information about what your opponent’s hands contain.
This means that you have to quickly use what you do know to calculate the odds of whether they are in a stronger or weaker position than you. And, as all deal makers know, this is a skill that’s also essential for any kind of negotiation.
Being Ready To Bluff
There’s a flip side to this, of course. This comes into play when you find yourself in not such a strong position, or even when you don’t want to reveal you’re operating from a position of strength.
So being able to keep a poker face and give nothing away is as important a skill to have, whether you’re facing up to someone over poker or at a boardroom table. A lot of this comes down to your body language so learning to control this is always going to be a key ability.
Never Trusting Appearances
Of course, you’re as likely to be bluffed against as you are to be the bluffer. Play poker or try to cut business deals and you’ll find that there are plenty of people out there who are very good at it indeed.
So getting into the habit of never assuming and always withholding judgment until you can be sure is essential. It can also help if you start to identify clear patterns of behavior in adversaries as these may give vital clues as to what is really going on.
Being Prepared To Gamble
Sometimes, however, you just have to be ready to stick your neck out and go for it. Nothing is ever 100% certain in poker or in business so there are always going to be times when you take risks. In the past, some very successful business people have had to literally take this approach with one of the most famous examples being FedEx founder Fred Smith.
Among the many surprising facts about Smith who founded the delivery site, at one point the company was down to its last $5,000 with the risk of foreclosure looming. So he picked up the cash, headed for Vegas, and played blackjack until he’d increased it to a business-saving $27,000. Today, he is one of the richest men in America.
A key element of being able to gamble, and to bluff for that matter, is to be brave. In particular, it’s having the courage of your convictions to suddenly make a major direction change without focusing too directly on possible negative consequences.
This can be hard. But being able to be decisive is a principal skill of leadership. Media site e-bulletin documents that when Jack Dorsey quit as head of Twitter for bitcoin, it would have needed considerable bravery on his part.
Admittedly, he does have his billions as a safety net. But, having been so closely involved with the social media giant since its very beginnings, it will still have been a very difficult, but necessary, decision to make.
Concentrating Even Under Pressure
It’s a well-known phenomenon that we often find ourselves paralyzed by indecision when we are under pressure. Having the ability to over-ride this natural phenomenon was one of the many facets of his nature that made Apple’s Steve Jobs so very successful and such an inspiring leader.
Being able to focus to such an extent on a computer site definitely doesn’t come naturally to most people. But it is a skill that comes with practice and experience – and the more practice you get by playing long and intense poker games, the quicker you might acquire it.
Never Discount Luck
So far we’ve talked about aspects of your behavior that you can actively control. But anyone who’s ever played poker before will know that sometimes just dumb luck can see you through. It’s not scientific, it’s not predictable. But it definitely happens.
And when you’re the lucky beneficiary of it, don’t dwell on it, just move on. Because, sooner or later, you’ll be on the other side of things and wondering how you could be so unlucky.
So, hopefully, this has given you some valuable pointers about transferring skills from the poker table to the business world. Now it’s time to deal with yourself, check out our business site for more entrepreneurial stories and insight that can help you on your journey.