“I see potential in your face,” a good friend declared.
I stared at him in disbelief.
Because I have a nice face.
Not the serious face of a scholar.
Not the square face of an athlete.
Not the resting mean face of someone who is “a real force of nature” — destined to be taken seriously.
(As a teenager, I secretly hoped my face would be good enough for Hollywood, but — alas! — a nice face is not the same as a glamorous face.)
I grew up believing a person with a nice, smiley, friendly face like mine has limited potential. I believed nice people finish last.
With a nice face like this, I decided the highest potential I could hope for was doing something … well, nice. So, I took this nice face to college and graduated with a degree in Social Work. I officially typecast myself as a sugary sweet, do-gooder, people-pleaser, doormat.
As the years passed by, one more quickly than the next, I was getting bored with the limits I had placed on myself. I questioned my beliefs and began to wonder:
What if this nice face could do more? I explored possibilities I’d only dreamt about; maybe I could start a consulting business, become a professional speaker, compete in triathlons, and maybe even take myself more seriously.
And right around this time, poker entered my life.
A good friend introduced me to the game, declaring, “I see potential in your face.”
At first, I was intimidated by all the faces around the poker table — they were staunch and straight. They avoided eye contact while confidently betting large piles of chips. Immediately I backed down, relying on my old “nice face” beliefs. I told myself, “I don’t have a chance against that guy, look how serious he is. He’s probably going to win. If I bet that amount of money, I’m just going to lose it. I’m too nice to win.”
In the beginning, I lost a lot of poker tournaments. But quitting wasn’t an option, I committed myself to testing the limits of my old beliefs. Besides, I enjoyed meeting new people, and I was having fun, so I kept coming back to play. I’m so glad I did because I learned some valuable lessons around the poker table.
- It doesn’t matter what your face looks like; the cards always have the final say about who wins. When you face down an opponent who’s just gone all-in, and you know you’ve got four-of-a-kind, nothing about the look of his face is going to make his cards beat yours.
- As soon as I took poker seriously and committed to studying the game, it suddenly didn’t matter what my face looked like. Instead of being a victim of someone else’s intimidating big bets and hard stares, I took control of my doubts with newfound knowledge. I learned to calculate the risk and the odds more effectively, I learned to see card combinations that could beat other cards more readily. I learned when to bet, what to bet and when to fold. I committed to a poker strategy that works for me. Ladies and gentlemen, this became the face of a learner who now understands how the game is played.
- You never know about a face until you see them bet on a few hands. Some mean-looking faces are nice and just like to play poker – they aren’t out to get ya. Some nice-looking faces are cut-throat and want all the chips to themselves – by the way – these players don’t always get what they want.
- My face has become my number one advantage. I win poker games because people don’t see me coming. The other players — mostly men — see a nice face and often don’t take me seriously. They either think I’m not smart enough or become strangely intimidated because they don’t quite know what to do with a nice face like mine.
- I’ve been tempted to change my face to appear more like the ones around the poker table, but the most important lesson I came away from the poker table is this: I’ve gained an appreciation and admiration for my nice face and the nice features that come along with it. This is a face of a woman who knows how to be kind to the many faces at the table, who wins gracefully and accepts defeat humbly. I wouldn’t change a thing about my face.
As it turns out, this face is just a front for untapped, unlimited potential. I no longer make decisions believing “nice people finish last.” I’ve started a business, become a professional speaker, competed in triathlons, and climbed mountains. I can learn, practice, and work hard to become great at things. I don’t have time to underestimate myself anymore, I see a future filled with dreams and possibilities.
I’m determined to go after every opportunity of untapped potential, one poker tournament at a time.