Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

Let’s just say that 2014 hasn’t been a banner year for me. The trade association I co-founded nine years ago and helped grow to 55 members at its peak imploded. I lost a motion that I’ve never had denied- nor ever even seen denied in 25 years of practice – and  managed to pull out a narrow save only by pulling an all-nighter on a reconsideration request before driving 8 hours north to drop my daughter at college. I’m likely going to face my first professional action and while it’s utterly groundless, that won’t spare me from ponying up my deductible. I even dropped my iPhone in the toilet – first time ever – and had to replace it after a grain of the rice that I’d submerged it in to dry it out lodged in the charger hole. Oh, and my husband has a brain tumor, of a serious variety (some aren’t as bad as others. This one is). Oy, this is one sorry post.

When bad luck hits and sticks, many of us start to wonder whether we’ve done something to attract or deserve it. After all, if good luck flows from a good attitude and strong work ethic, then arguably, the opposite holds true. And then, we find ourselves living out a big self-fulfilling prophecy, giving up before even trying because after all, what’s the point?

But there is a point and it’s this.  Life is wildly random. Bad stuff happens. Not all the time.  Not to everyone. And when it does, “why me?” isn’t nearly as useful a response as “what now?”  After all, as Randy Pausch of Last Lecture fame eloquently put it, “We can’t control how the cards are dealt, just how we’ll play the hand.”

Sometimes, the worst inspires our best as it did with Randy Pausch or JK Rowling (living in unheated poverty til she sold the first Harry Potter ) novel. More likely, most of us will play our cards clumsily and without finesse — maybe bluffing unconvincingly or folding quickly to get through to the next round and a fresh hand. Whatever works, so long as you stay in the game.