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Posted: May 17, 2013

Let’s make a deal

Choosing door No. 4

Todd Ordal

I’ve had the wonderful experience of watching my kids grow up, and I now learn much from them. I learned about the backcountry from my oldest son, who sleeps outdoors more in a year than I have in a lifetime. I learned how precious our water resources are from my daughter, the engineer (She also taught me about Belgian beer, but that’s another story). I discovered how to better understand the creative mind from my daughter the artist, who sees the world from a fascinating perspective. And this week, I learned something about mental toughness from my youngest son.

He’s in his first real job out of college (though he was a Marine before college, which plays into the story) and was just finding his sea legs when the company decided to reorganize to cut expenses. As the new guy on the team, my son was told he’d have to accept a different position he didn’t want and take a pay cut.

He replied with, “I don’t like it, but I’ll do what you need me to do.” He then spent a day or two thinking about his options. This was no longer the streets of Fallujah, and he wasn’t required to salute and run into a bad situation. He asked me what I thought he should do, and I responded: “I don’t know. Let’s explore your options.”

He recently received a call unexpectedly from someone who wanted to hire him, and he had an open offer from another firm to talk about something that actually applied to his college major. He could also just take the new position and see how it played out. However, he took a different route.

He respected members of management and took them up on their “open door” policy. He went high enough up the food chain to get to a decision maker, telling him he was making a mistake. And he pointed out his results, which had been stellar. Short story: They found a way to keep him in his current role at his current salary.

I like his actions because he was assertive, didn’t take what the company was imposing on him and wasn’t afraid of failure. He also respected and understood that management has to make tough calls.

When you’re a young parent and a young manager, you feel the need to have all the answers. Ironically, when you’re older and actually have more of the answers, you find you don’t really need to. I’m glad I didn’t tell him what to do.

So my takeaway from my son’s actions is to not take what’s handed to you. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the TV show “Let’s Make a Deal” where host Monty Hall asked contestants, “Would you like what’s behind door No. 1, 2 or 3?” when they had no idea what was behind them. Perhaps the best answer is door No. 4!

Todd Ordal is President of Applied Strategy LLC. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He speaks, writes, consults and advises on issues of strategy and leadership. Todd is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Follow Todd on Twitter here. You can also find Todd at http://www.appliedstrategy.info,  303-527-0417 or todd@appliedstrategy.info

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