You’ve 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 countin’
When the dealin’s done
~Lyrics from Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”
In the song “The Gambler,” Kenny Rogers talks about having the wherewithal to “know when to fold ‘em,” which is something every entrepreneur and manager should have. Of course, Rogers is talking about gambling, but I think there are many other situations when you need to be able to recognize it is time to walk away.
Everyone will reach a point when they are no longer effective in their jobs. Whether because of age, health, knowledge, temperament or some other factor, your ineffectiveness is going to cost your company or team a lot. It may be time to fold up your hand and move on.
I was working with an entrepreneur who had lost all his motivation to work. He just no longer had the passion he once had. It took him an average of three days to return calls, if at all. His business was way down and heading further south. He would need to take some drastic steps to save what was left.
I tried to get this entrepreneur to see he was harming both his staff and his wealth by insisting he could still effectively run this company. I told him, like most products, we have a life cycle and tried to get him to understand he was at the upper end of his. It was time to relinquish control of his business.
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Despite my attempts to reason with him, this entrepreneur stubbornly refused to consider selling his business or turning it over to his management team. In the end, he was forced to file both personal and corporate bankruptcy. His unwillingness to see the telltale signs that he was no longer effective in his job cost him most of his financial assets. As if that was not tragic enough, all his staff lost their jobs too.
In my experience, there are numerous signs that it is time to consider stepping down. The most common is an unwillingness to take any risk. Worded another way, this is also being okay with the status quo and blocking everything new. I have seen this in just about every case, and it is a sure sign that the person no longer has the requisite motivation.
Losing focus is another telltale sign. This spells trouble because losing focus on the little things allows them to build into big problems.
Finally, the biggest indicator is that they no longer enjoy their job. Instead of contributing, they feel like they are just putting in their time. They also complain a lot about the job or their team.
Knowing “when to fold ‘em” is critical for the gambler as well as every one of us. So go out and make sure you are watching for these telltale signs in yourself. Be honest in your evaluation. If you are starting to notice yourself doing these things or feeling this way, it is time to consider letting your company or team be led by someone who still has the passion to help it grow.
You can do this!