Poker Chips

Can you bet big? What does having a big stack of chips really mean? Asset Coach, Richard Boylan explores what reality is like for people who aren’t in the position to risk it all.

During the years I have been involved with those experiencing tough times, I often get asked what is the toughest ‘challenge’ I face or the biggest ‘obstacle’ I come across. For me, the answer is often self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the fuel that powers us to move forward. Ultimately, the more self-esteem you have, the more likely you are to be thriving in life and mixing with like-minded people. A lack of self-esteem and you feel you are not in control and you often have a lower opinion of yourself and your abilities.

That’s all very nice I hear you say but what about these poker chips, that’s why I clicked on this blog! No worries, let me explain…..

There is a theory out there called ‘The Poker Chip Theory’ that explains self-esteem in a nice and simple way and I came across it whilst working with children in care. Richard Lavoie penned the theory and equates self-esteem to poker chips, as in the more you have, the more you are willing to use.

To be fair, I am not a poker player but have seen enough to know that the player with the bigger pile of chips will more than likely always beat the player with the smaller stack. Why? Because they can afford to bet big, they can take the chances that other players cannot. If they lose some chips it’s not the end of the world, there are plenty more in the pile. On the other hand the smaller stack player means they have to be more cautious, think more about the outcome and, more often than not bet small or not bet at all. Got to guard those chips to stay in the game!

Now think about someone you know going through a tough time, think about their stack of chips. More than likely it is a small stack, they are concerned about trying to keep hold of them but day to day life takes those chips away resulting in them unwilling to take those chances, afraid to bet big as they can’t afford to lose.

Compare that to your life and think on your pile of chips, I would imagine it is pretty big! Hopefully you are surrounded by those that love and look out for you, you have a job that adds value to your life and gives you purpose, you live where you have chosen to live and in a home that you are proud of. Maybe you have a nice social life and plenty of interests, either way, it is a safe bet that you are in control of your life.

Poker chips is what makes Mayday Trust and its Personal Transition Service stand apart from the rest. It isn’t about ‘fixing’ or telling people what they should be doing to have a better life, it’s about talking with people to find out what is important to them, what they want to do and achieve in life, who they want to be.

As the saying goes “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t” and that is no different for those going through tough times, but by focusing on the negatives or what is perceived to be wrong will never increase someone’s pile of poker chips. Having conversations about a persons passions and interests, looking at what it is they are good at and letting them steer their own course helps to increase their stack of chips, building evidence that they can achieve, making positive connections, and as the pile increases, the more they are willing to bet and the better the rewards.

After a time this becomes an unstoppable force, people gain internal motivation to make a positive and sustained change in their lives, achieving the insight and resilience to face their next tough time from a better and more able place. This is what stops the revolving door of people re-entering the system.

So the next time you come across someone going through a tough time who has made a decision that makes no sense to you, just have a think about their pile of poker chips, how big it is and whether you are standing in the way of them making it bigger by focusing on weakness.