Deal Yourself a Good Hand!
by Sudhir H. Kale, Ph.D.*

God has given you a spirit with wings on which to soar into the spacious firmament of Love and Freedom. Is it not pitiful then that you cut your wings with your own hands and suffer your soul to crawl like an insect upon the earth?
-- Kahlil Gibran

In the past two decades, I have come to know quite a few casino executives all over the globe. Some have fascinated me immensely with their experiences, their understanding of the human psyche, and their street level intelligence. However, interacting with a small section of senior managers in this industry brings forth a sense of despondency in me. These folks appear risk averse and timid, not wanting to rock the boat, waiting for retirement, desperately wanting to cling on to their jobs till that fateful day arrives. In the interim, they find little joy in the workplace, few challenges or any real excitement. I cannot help but ask myself how some people can continue to play this waiting game for five, ten, or even fifteen years of their working lifespan. It seems that the joy de vivre of life has forsaken these folks entirely. They have made a bargain with destiny, choosing security over challenge, stability over happiness, inertia over élan. Not surprisingly, most employers view them as deadwood, constantly searching for humane ways to jettison them.

And yet, life for these folks need not be so dull and dreary. A little imagination, a healthy dose of creativity, and a few proactive moves could totally transform their reality. They could revolutionize their work life as well as personal life and begin to feel alive again. Are you one of the executives drifting toward a life of waiting and inertia? If not, do you know any of your colleagues who fit the profile mentioned above? If so, for what it is worth, here are six pointers for the hundreds of middle- and top-managers in the casino industry who feel they have little left to cherish but retirement.

1. Diversify Your Interests Through Reading

It is quite rare to come across middle-aged casino executives with a variety of interests. Several, it seems, are pre-occupied with masking their grey hair or covering their bald spots. The one non work-related activity many allow themselves is golf. Maybe, there’s a strange sort of symbolism operating with golf. After seeing thousands of people getting into a hole in the casino, these folks want to seek the same experience, albeit in a financially non-threatening way. Life for many involves doing house chores, getting clothes dry-cleaned and reporting to work on the allotted shift. With every passing day, the threshold of boredom drops while the mood of resignation gains in ascendancy. In the later stages of their careers, many gaming managers see their industry as dull and uninspiring. Life appears drained of anticipation and excitement.

The easiest way to escape this drudgery is to broaden one’s interests and the simplest way of doing so is books. Unfortunately, a well-read casino executive is as much of an oddity as a million dollar keno winner. Books have the unique capacity of broadening our sense of self, expand our realm of possibilities, and breathe life into our dormant consciousness. Victor Null, the South African educator writes, “Books are the dreams we would most like to have, and, like dreams, they have the power to change consciousness, turning sadness to laughter and anxious introspection to the relaxed contemplation of some other time and place.” Ask yourself what it is that you would like to learn more about? Then dig into the right books for information, inspiration, and understanding.

2. Engage In Hobbies

Leisure researcher Margaret Mulac argues that in our contemporary world, the choice of leisure time activities may be the determining factor between a happy, satisfying life and the opposite. While a job supplies the life-sustaining ingredients, our hobbies must supply the happiness ingredients of living. It is our hobbies that facilitate the expression and development of selfhood; they provide the wherewithal for working out of identities that are important to each individual.

Hobbies fall into four broad categories: making hobbies (model airplanes or pottery), learning hobbies (literature or foreign language), doing hobbies (sports or line dancing), and collecting hobbies (stamps or coins). Based on our temperament, we can choose the class of hobbies that provide us with the most fulfillment and rejuvenation.

3. Widen Your Circle and Assortment of Friends

Most contemporary casino executives begin their career as dealers. A majority get married to another member of the casino staff, and the gaming industry is the only one in which they have ever worked. This life pattern creates an incestuous myopia, blinding its sufferers to the world of unexplored possibilities. Meaningful and frequent interactions with people having drastically different orientations can alleviate some of the limitations arising from this life pattern.

Making friends with people from various other professions, backgrounds, and cultures helps broaden our life-perspective and makes the world infinitely more interesting. It provides us with a rich resource of ideas and challenges us to pursue things besides what we have always considered as tried and true. A wide array of friends enables us in maintaining a fresh vision and a broad outlook.

4. Instill Your Working Day with Creativity

In his book, Human Motivation, Robert Franken defines creativity as “the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.” Creativity stems from three basic motives or needs: the need for novel and varied stimulation, the need to communicate ideas and values, and the need to solve problems. Most view creativity as the domain of geniuses and gifted artists. This is simply not the case. We are all born creative, and creativity can thus be considered our birthright. Just look at children. They are creative because they look at every issue with fresh eyes. Their solutions tend to be “outside the box” simply because they don’t know that the box exists. As Mary Lou Cook observes, creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. A lot of creativity involves letting go of the accumulated baggage of rules, of what has been done before, and of what is expected.

Once you start thinking and acting outside the box, you will begin to find every day filled with wonder and immense possibilities. What was once mundane will suddenly appear novel and exciting. The average working day will be a day marked by exhilaration, stimulation, and a sense of accomplishment. Remember good old Ben Franklin’s edict: Ceasing to think creatively is but little different from ceasing to live. When was the last time you had a “Eureka experience” at work? If you feel you have had all such experiences you could possibly have had in your current setting, pay careful attention to the next pointer.

5. Allow for the Possibility of Making a Living Outside the Casino

This suggestion might appear utterly risqué to most readers. How heretical a thought, you say. I am not being a heretic. Though the very thought of jumping off the cliff might unnerve some readers initially, let us dwell on this proposition for a while.

By now, you have probably accumulated enough of a nest egg. Your financial responsibilities toward your family are almost approaching conclusion. You still have fifteen or twenty years of solid work to offer. If you are finding your current job dull and uninteresting, what do you have to lose by letting go of it? Ask yourself what you have always dreamed of doing. Tell yourself there has never been a better time to do it. Act on your passions.

I’ve always felt extremely energized by the stories of people who foll

Date Posted: 02-Aug-2002

*Sudhir H. Kale, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Business Administration and Chair of Marketing Department at Bond University, Australia. Sudhir’s interests are gaming, spirituality, the Enneagram, MBTI, and the pursuit of untamed, unrestrained happiness. He consults and trains in several areas of interest to gaming executives: cross-cultural communications, CRM, customer service, and effective face-to-face interactions. Address for correspondence: Bond University, School of Business, Gold Coast, QLD 4220, Australia; 61-7-55201416; sudhir_kale@bond.edu.au.

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