Career moves

Career Advice from the Strangest Source

Executive leaders deal with making career moves multiple times in their life. There’s an old ballad sung by Kenny Rogers, called “The Gambler”. The other day a catch phrase caught my attention and I began humming the tune. As I merrily strolled along my way, it struck me that these words are pretty solid advice to anyone making a career change.

If your not familiar with the refrain, it goes like this:

“You got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em.
Know when to walk away.
Know when to run.
You never count your money
when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealin’s done.”

Hold ‘Em

Executives currently engaged in a specific role often feel the itch to change jobs. Whether the motivation is “grass is greener” or some sense of dread about the current role, you need to be careful about jumping around.

First, as the old adage tells us, the grass is NOT always greener on the other side. The lure of a new opportunity may be based on all of the highlights about that job. Yet further exploration reveals the new position is burdened with all sorts of issues.

Plus, you may need to hang in with your present posiiton to be sure you have exhausted all the opportunity that exists in it. If you are considering a change because the current role is not fulfilling for you, then you owe it to yourself and the team who hired you to do your best to maximize the situation (that’s what real leaders do). If you have spent your best effort trying to make the current job the best it can be, then you are ready for the next step.

Fold ‘Em

You can stay too long in a job or with a company. Perhaps you are comfortable with the paycheck, but your career is fading. If you find yourself leaning too deep into a comfort zone, then you have voluntarily stalled your advancement as a leader.

Ask yourself about the last time you felt challenged or excited to be going into the office. Are the people above you folks who you admire and want to emulate? I know a senior manager who decided to leave a very well-paying job at a large publicly traded company because he could not identify anyone above him that demonstrated any leadership traits he could respect or admire.

When to Walk Away

There are countless reasons you might choose to walk away from a company. When that time comes, then walking away is the professional and ethical way to do it. What does that mean?

Walking away suggests a calm and orderly exit. You submit your resignation and do what is asked about the transition. Then you walk out, head held high, with your own sense of dignity. No gloating, no nudging of others, just an orderly exit.

When to Run

On the rare occasion you discover the team you work for is doing things that do not fit with your moral, legal, or ethical compass, you need to run. Leave as fast as you can. There is no fixing something like that. Get out as quickly as you can.

Never Count Your Money at the Table

In a game of poker, you can see each other’s chip stack. You don’t need to count yours to let others know what you have. They get the idea.

Taking time to talk about your compensation and the wealth you are accumulating is just bad form; it’s just plain rude. In banking circles we have a term for “old money” and “new money”. Old money is the hard earned family legacy kind. Those people don’t talk much about their money, even when asked. They live relatively guiet and unassuming lives, albeit with bigger houses and other trappings.

New money gloats about it. People who hit the jackpot and amassed larger fortunes often don’t know how to handle it. They flaunt the wealth and belittle those who have less. Generally, they’re not really much fun to be around.

There’ll be Time Enough

As you work to build your wealth, you will have appropriate times to check the balances and be a good steward of the money. Set plans in motion for money management. Then stay focused on being the best leader you can be; at home, at work, and in the community.


Managing your career may feel like one big poker game; bidding, bluffing, winning some hands, losing others. When it starts feeling that way, think about this sage advice from the Gambler.

[reminder]Which stage are you in right now? [/reminder]

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment