How the lottery changed my life and how it can change yours too, even when you don’t win

lotteryNo, I didn’t win. I have played but never won more than a couple of hundred dollars. Like millions of others, I engage in the not altogether unpleasant dream world of wondering what I would do with all that money. I have friends who, by their own admission, got into the biggest quarrel of their marriage over how to spend the money from the lottery. The problem was that they didn’t even win it. It was a fight over speculation.

You may have seen the TV program called “How the Lottery Changed My Life.” It details the not-always happy accounts of some of the nation’s lottery winners. Very few actually comprehend what that much money all at once means, but I digress.

The lottery represents a particular outlook on life most people find hard to resist and one by which most live even if they are unaware of it and even if we’ve never bought a lottery ticket. Just about everyone dreams of a shortcut to a life of wealth and the ease they perceive it will buy for them. They long for and wait for that one event that will suddenly and wonderfully turn their life around.

They think lottery even if they don’t win the lottery.

It goes like this. I have challenges, obstacles, hopes, wishes, dreams, and ambitions that can all be reached and resolved just as soon as those numbers match the drawing. Problem is the odds of winning the Powerball, arguably the most popular single game in the country, played by millions in 43 states, is 1 in 175,223,510. Even the best odds, and you’ll only win a few dollars, is 1 in 55.41.

Someone (no one really knows who said it) said the harder he worked the luckier he got. The lottery changed my life not because I won, but because what it reveals about what it really takes to succeed.

Sitting on my desk is an independently published book written by a very sincere and well-meaning person. When describing their book the author glowingly speaks of how wealthy their book is going to make them. The author has hired one of the many author services that have sprung up. For a fee (not cheap) these services will take your manuscript, create a cover, format it in a form useable by a POD (Print On Demand) service, and set it up for sale on Amazon. Now you can do all of this for yourself at a much lower cost but many shell out the bucks to have someone else do it for them.

Here’s where the lottery mindset comes in. The lottery mindset says that by sheer luck great fortune will come to me. There are two ways to success. One way is the traditional one. It is millennia old and proven across every culture, requires hard work, smart work, creative work that finds a market for their product. Those who follow that plan become successful because they are entrepreneurial, diligent, and accept the responsibilities incumbent upon them to present the product to a buying public in such a way that the buyer is compelled to buy.

The lottery player discounts all of that, hoping that somehow some way someone will buy what they have.

Back to the book on my desk. I’ve reviewed lots of books and I cannot find anything in this one that has any appeal to anyone outside the author’s family and circle of friends. Truthfully, it is a poorly written, poorly formatted work. I don’t know how much money they paid the service to prepare this book for them, but that service seems to be unfamiliar with even basic book design principles. Yet, somehow someway the author expects to be rich because of this. Sadly, it will never happen.

The late Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author used a diagram in his book “See You At The Top” which I cannot reproduce here because of copyright restrictions but I can describe it. There is an elevator standing next to a stairway. On the door of the elevator hangs a sign that reads “out of order” with an arrow pointing to the stairs. On each riser in the stairway is written a particular component on the rise to success.

The lesson?

There are no shortcuts to the top so stop waiting for them!

Just one person out of every 175 million gets to ride the elevator. You are not going to be that one. So, here’s what I recommend.

Play the lottery if you want to but, as an Air Force Colonel once told me, hope so is not a valid strategy.  You might hit it big through sheer luck but it’s not likely and you can waste a lot of time and opportunity along the way hoping that you do.

Competition is the name of the game. Even though your mother will disagree, you are not the center of the universe. Trouble is you have to share the universe with lots and lots of others whose mom told them that they were the center of the universe and there can be no more than one true center. How do you intend to excel? What are you doing, what does your product offer that makes you or it stand out? If you can’t identify why, then you’ve work to do. If you have no product to sell, you do have yourself. What traits, skills, talents, abilities, or attitudes do you possess that have marketability? For what reason should your boss keep you on or should a potential boss have to hire you?

Do something today that will push you towards success tomorrow.  Nothing works if you won’t. Need some help getting started? Take my free “Mastering Your Time” mini-course. It begins by helping you define and decide what are the true purposes for your life.

Become a wizard of odds. Odds are you will not win the lottery. Odds are you will try things and some will not work out. Odds are life will offer challenges and setbacks. Odds are you will overcome and succeed. Odds are you will discover what you really want is not what you think you really want. Odds are that the components of success – hard work, diligence, honesty, responsibility, and integrity will reward you bountifully.

The past does not matter anymore but the present does. The only dimension you can live in is the present which always leads to tomorrow. You cannot reap a harvest if you’ve planted nothing. Buying lottery tickets is not an investment in the future. Living with a lottery mindset isn’t either. There are no magic beans, no wizard who will get you where you long to be, no windfall that will change your life. The most effective changes are incremental, a daily exercise in advancement.

Here’s where I will get in trouble. Religious people are particularly inclined to lottery player thinking. They live life by slogans (like Let go and Let God) which justify decisions they’ve made or excuse decisions they should have made but didn’t and lend to those actions a degree of respectability. Having spent most of my life in that setting I can confidently say that too many religious people are often are in conflict between their sense of the miraculous and the imperative to accept personal responsibility. Faith should be a reason for a commitment to excellence. Too often is has become an excuse for irresponsibility. After all, they reason, somehow someway God will fix all this. The odds? About the same, one in 175 million. Sadly I have seen this happen over and over and over again. If you yourself do not live responsibly, if you yourself do not forsake lottery thinking even if you’ve given it a religious label and found plenty of Bible verses with which you can justify it, God himself cannot help you. Please do not excuse an unwillingness to make decisions and pursue ventures by saying you only want to glorify God and do His will. That is a completely meaningless exercise until and unless it is followed by some purposeful action. Want scriptural proof? Psalms 37:3 – Trust the Lord AND DO GOOD. There you have it. The two are married. Faith and action.

So, what am I saying? Forsake the lottery mindset. Get up out of that chair and get to work. The only one responsible for a happy, successful life is you.


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