The Lottery of Life

I don’t often buy lottery tickets. I do when there is a jackpot over $500 million or so but why bother with those pesky $200 or $300 million ones. 

 

I think lots of people are just like me. Lottery officials seem to confirm that. The higher the jackpot the longer the lines to buy tickets and the faster the jackpot grows. 

 

There are a lot of people who play the lottery of life the same way. They ask for a little help but what they mean is “do it for me.” They will actually refuse “some” help because they want enough “help” so that they don’t have to do a thing on their own to succeed. 

 

The people who truly win the lottery of life are the ones who have developed the discipline and work ethic to succeed on their own. Except they know they never really do it on their own. They work their butts off and accept whatever help they can get along the way and use it to boost their own efforts, not replace them.

 

There are certainly people who seem to “luck” their way to success. There are people who have the appearance of success handed to them. There are also a whole lot of people hoping for success to somehow magically appear.

 

But the surest way to find success is to look for it in the hard work and effort you put forth to earn it. 

 

The legendary baseball player Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Are you that person? Do you suffer the setbacks that life offers and bounce back to try again? Are you working for success or hoping for success?

 

I don’t want anyone to stop hoping for something better but hope alone doesn’t accomplish much. Never allow hope to stop you from making a concerted effort to earn the success you’re hoping for. 


If you’re willing to work for it then I’m willing to bet you’ll find it. You’ll find it or you’ll make it but either way you’ll have won the biggest lottery of all. You’ll have won the lottery of life! 

Easier Said Than Done

I shouldn’t be, but I often am, surprised at how many people respond to a blog post or something I post on Twitter by telling me “that’s easier said than done.”

 

That got me to thinking…yes I know that scares a lot of people….but it got me to thinking about what is easier to do than it is to say. I’m stumped! It seems to me that everything is easier said than done. In fact, it seems to me that the biggest accomplishments are way easier said than done. 

 

It’s far easier for anyone to say they are going to do something than it is to actually do it. That’s especially true for things that are worth doing. 

 

When I hear the response “that’s easier said than done” I’m almost certain that the person saying it will never know how easy or hard it is to do because they have no intention of even trying. 

 

I know some of you won’t like hearing this but “easier said than done” is an excuse and a poor one at that. It provides people with the cover they need to do nothing. Except in the long run that “cover” turns out to be as transparent as glass. 

 

If you’re reading this you should know that the device you’re reading it on wouldn’t even exist if the person or people who invented it had bought into the “easier said than done” excuse. 

 

Pretty much everything you take for granted today was once thought impossible and it would still be impossible if the person who overcame that seeming impossibility had accepted the lazy excuse of “that’s easier said than done.”

 

So what’s one thing in your life you would like to change if only it wasn’t easier said then done? 


Clear you mind of the success limiting thinking of “easier said than done” and just do it. Once you’ve accomplished it, once you made that change, once you’ve succeeded it won’t matter anymore how hard it was; it will be done. Even better than that, YOU will have done it! 

Second Thoughts

It is okay to doubt yourself for a moment. The only people who don’t have second thoughts are the ones who have few thoughts in the first place. 

 

Having a doubt in your mind doesn’t mean you’re a doubter. It means you have the mental capacity to re-think something. Many times a second thought will sharpen your decision, not change it. 

 

Second thoughts cause you to ask yourself questions, find alternatives and take the appropriate action. Second thoughts slow us down and give us time to reflect on the decision we just made. Second thoughts can serve a valuable purpose. 

 

But…

 

Second thoughts can also come straight out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being wrong, fear of upsetting or disappointing someone. Second thoughts born out of fear are almost always a very stressful experience. 

 

Second thoughts sometimes stem from a lack of self-confidence. Those second thoughts are demotivating and cause you to doubt not just your decisions but your abilities, values, and even your relationships with others. Second thoughts based on a lack of confidence in yourself actually feed on themselves and grow every time you experience doubt. 

 

Second thoughts from fear or a confidence issue serve no useful purpose because they cause you to ask the wrong questions. They cause you to question yourself more than the decision you made. These kinds of second thoughts don’t sharpen a decision or even change a decision, they simply delay it or eliminate the decision completely. 

 

So when you’re having second thoughts you need to determine the source of that doubt. If it’s coming from fear then remember that the only place that fear exists is in our minds. Fear can not make a home in your head unless you allow it. The fastest and most effective way to deal with fear is to take action. Do the thing you fear the most and fear will no longer have control over you. 

 

If your second thoughts are coming from a lack of self-confidence then you need to remind yourself of all your past successes. If you’ve succeeded before then you can absolutely do it again. You need to ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen if you move forward with your decision. Realize that in most cases you are perfectly capable of dealing with that “worst.” Rethink your decision to determine how you can minimize that “worst case” and then move forward. 

 

Not making a decision due to second thoughts IS a decision. It’s a decision to do nothing and doing nothing is almost always wrong. 


People who never have second thoughts are know it alls who most often know nothing at all. You actually want to have second thoughts. Use them to make better, more confident decisions. There is no doubt, no doubt at all, that it will lead you to a better life!

Last Second Sam

There are people who claim to believe that procrastination helps them be more successful. To them I would say that once you become comfortable misleading yourself you can, and most likely will, mislead anyone. 

 

Procrastination will kill your opportunity for success. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but eventually it most definitely will. That much is certain!

 

People who believe procrastination helps them because they think better under pressure are not being honest with themselves. People who believe they are more productive when working under stress are fooling themselves. 

 

Approaching deadlines do not make people smarter, calmer, more productive or more logical. They make everything more challenging.

 

The real reason many people procrastinate is that they see low value in the task. It’s either not fun enough or they see no reward for doing it. Some people procrastinate because they do not have confidence in their ability to complete the task. Fear of failure is a driving force behind many a procrastinator’s behavior. 

 

For some people procrastination is part of their personality. They are just more impulsive than other people. These are the people I call last second Sam or last second Sally depending on…well you know what it depends on.

 

One of the most effective tools for overcoming the tendency to procrastinate is a Prioritized Daily Task List. A prioritized task list is a to-do list on steroids. You list all the things you need to accomplish on a given day but you list them in order of importance. You DO NOT do the second most important thing until the most important thing is accomplished. 

 

Don’t worry about working on one thing all day if it’s truly the most important or most productive thing you could do that day. You’ll still be better offer than if you spent the day doing a bunch of unimportant or unproductive things. 

 

Many procrastinators put off doing things that are quick and easy to do. They don’t see a lot of fun or reward in doing them so they just put it off. Answering an email is a good example. A quick answer might take only a minute but they still open and read the email several times before answering it. 

 

So here’s a good rule of thumb to help stop at least some procrastinating. If a task takes a minute or less to do then do it immediately. No delay, no hesitation, and NO PROCRASTINATING! You will be amazed at how many things you do in a day can be completed in under a minute. 

 

Don’t kid yourself into thinking being a last second Sam or Sally has one ounce of benefit. You will not find even one very successful person who will tell you their success is due to putting off until tomorrow what should have been done today. 


And you’re highly unlikely to be the first.


Attitude and Effort

Many years ago I received some exceptional advice from a mentor that has stayed with me to this day. He told me to stop trying to control things I couldn’t control. His recommendation was that I focus 100% of my attention on the things within my control. He also said to “block out” the uncontrollable things from my field of view because they were nothing more than distractions. 

 

Through the years as I’ve considered his advice I’ve discovered there are far fewer controllable parts of my life than there are uncontrollable. I can influence what other people think of me but I can’t control their thoughts. I can try to influence their actions but people will eventually do whatever they think is best for them. The list of stuff I can’t control could go on forever. 

 

But that’s okay because through the years I’ve also discovered that I can control, completely, two areas of my life which have the greatest impact on my success and happiness. 

 

Those areas are attitude and effort. 

 

In his timeless book “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl describes the “last of the human freedoms.” He says that last freedom, a freedom that can be taken from no one, is the choice of one’s own attitude. Every human on earth is free, regardless of their circumstances, to choose their own attitude. No one and nothing can take that freedom away from you. 

 

Before you say “well Viktor Frankl never worked where I work. He never experienced how tough my life is. He just doesn’t know,” before you say any of that you should know that Viktor Frankl is a surviver of Nazi Concentration Camps. He knows.

 

He would tell you that his choice of a positive attitude was literally life saving. 

 

I can only imagine, actually I can’t even imagine, how tough a fight it must have been each day for him to choose a positive attitude. But he fought the fight and won. 

 

The choice of a positive attitude is a big fight for me even in my relatively cushy world. I lose that fight too often but this much I’m certain of: every single part of my life is better on the days I win that fight. 

 

The question for you is will you consciously engage in that fight or will you allow other people and things to make the choice of your attitude for you? 

 

When it comes to making an effort I realized early on that there was a direct correlation between the level of effort I put into something and the results I received from that effort. When I really want something I remember the words of the immortal Yoda who said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” 

 

You alone control the level of effort you’re willing to put into any endeavor. You can allow obstacles to stop you or you can learn from them and use them as launching pads to your next level of success. You can make excuses or you can make progress. It’s hard to do both. 

 

As Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” If you allow yourself to be beaten you can be assured there is someone close by willing to put in the effort to do just that…beat you. 


If you adopt Yoda’s thinking then you won’t try to succeed you’ll do it. 

Care for Your Customer

I always enjoy watching marketing people, well good marketing people, talk about their products. They have a passion for them and if they are truly good at what they do it’s safe to say they actually love their products. It’s like their baby!

 

I’m especially interested in how they talk about their products to salespeople. They want the people selling their product to love it as much as they do. That’s where I’m pretty different from most marketers. 

 

I don’t want salespeople to love their products; I want them to love their customers. Don’t get me wrong, I want salespeople to believe in their products enough to represent them with integrity. I want them to understand the value those products bring to their customers. I need them to understand how their products solve a customer’s issue. I literally want salespeople to feel it’s an honor to sell their products to people who will benefit from them. 

 

But for long-term very successful salespeople it’s not the product they are most passionate about; it is their customers. More specifically, they are passionate about helping their customers. They care enough for their customers to help them identify their greatest areas of need. Then they work to figure out if they have a product or service that can address that need. 

 

Notice that I didn’t say that they care “about” their customer. Every business and salesperson cares about their customers. What I said was that long-term successful salespeople, and businesses for that matter, care “for” their customers. There is a big difference between caring about and caring for. 

 

Today Customer “Care”  has become something of a buzzword. Many Customer Service Departments are now called Customer “Care” departments. For many of those service departments the name was the only thing that changed. 

 

“Care” is much better as a verb. Some people use it as a noun but successful people, successful salespeople, successful leaders, and successful organizations use it as a verb. 

 

A verb, for those of you struggling to recall your days in English class, refers to an action. It will always be better to show people and customers that you care than it will be to tell them. I’m betting some of you are telling yourself right now that you care. I’ll bet some of you are reasonably sure other people know you care. I’ll also bet that many of you are hoping people, and your customers know you care. 


Don’t bet, don’t hope and don’t assume. Turn “Care” into a verb today and show someone, a loved one, a special co-worker or even a customer how much you truly care. It’s good business sense and it’s great people skills. So do it today!


How Humble are You?

I am likely the most humble person you will ever meet. That’s saying a lot because I’m also better at most everything I do than anyone else you’ve ever met. 

 

In the interest of time let me say I’m great at everything, especially being humble. 

 

Now that may not sound humble to some people but when you’re as awesome as I am even my humbleness looks like bragging. 

 

Well…maybe not. I have to admit that was kinda fun to write but the truth is that my greatest real strength is that I’m incredibly average. That’s not me trying to be humble, it’s a measurable fact. From my height and weight, numbers of wives, (one) number of kids, (two) number of dogs, (two) I’m about as average as an average person can be. 

 

I might be better at some stuff than others but others are better at some stuff than me. It all works out to about average. I’ve learned through the years that being average is a big advantage. I understand average people, I share their concerns, challenges, and in many cases their hopes for the future. 

 

My “averageness” has been a huge advantage when writing training programs or presenting in front of groups. Since I’ve long ago accepted the fact I’m just like 99% of other people I don’t have to pretend I’m something I’m not. I get that some people won’t like me and some people will. It’s always been that way and it always will. I don’t think I could change anything about me to make more people like me and even if I could I have no interest in changing for someone else’s sake. 

 

Being average makes it easy to be humble. I’m really not more or less humble than anyone else, I’d say I’m about average at that too. 

 

Being humble has it’s advantages. Humble leaders are not only better liked they are also more effective. That effectiveness comes from the fact that they are better able to connect with their people. Nobody likes a snobby leader and almost nobody follows one either. 

 

Humble people have better relationships overall. If you’re wondering why see the paragraph above. Humble people are more helpful. “Serving” others is not beneath them. They make a difference wherever, whenever and for whomever they can. 

 

On average humble people perform better at work. They are not afraid to ask for help, they willingly accept feedback and use it to better themselves. They make better teammates and cause far fewer issues for their leaders than less humble people. 

 

I have never taken or taught a class on how to be humble. I would think that anyone who thought themselves qualified to teach that class would immediately be deemed unqualified. I think you “learn” humility by seeing it modeled by other people. 

 

You learn humility from mistakes but mistakes can teach you humility only if you’re humble enough to own up to them. Is that a catch 22?


It feels like I should close this post by recommending that you try being more humble. I’m not sure you can actually try to work on that. I think you either are or you aren’t. So here’s a different recommendation instead….try being more honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. That ought to make anyone more humble.