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! 

The Best School in the World

Almost every successful person in the world attended this school. I should probably remove that “almost” qualifier and say every successful person. It is a tough school with lessons so difficult they often seem insurmountable. Some people, the less successful types, don’t even have the courage to walk through the virtual doors of this school. 

 

It’s the school known as “The School of Hard Knocks.” Some people call it the school of life.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with this school it isn’t found in a building. It’s not located in any particular place. The school never closes, not even when you want it to. When you’re trying something new or working your butt off to succeed you can find yourself in this “school” with no notice. All of the sudden it just happens!

 

The “classes” taught there can be very challenging but once learned they tend to stay with you forever. They are frequently life changing. They are most often self-taught. The “tests” associated with these classes can leave scars that last a long time. Some of the scars can be seen but many of them are only felt. But the feeling can be incredibly painful. 

 

These lessons cannot be bought, they must be earned. As difficult as they can be I’d encourage anyone to attend “The School of Hard Knocks” because some of life’s best lessons are taught there. It seems as if that Hard Knocks place is the one that shows you how to use all those fancy degrees and formal education you received from the other schools.


Don’t shy away from life’s tough lessons. The stuff you learn in a school with four walls can help you make a living but the stuff you learn outside those walls can help you make a life.


Are You Chasing a Dream?

The answer to that question is yes, you are most certainly chasing a dream. The bigger question is whether it’s your dream or somebody else’s. 

 

There is nothing wrong with helping someone else chase their dream so long as it doesn’t prevent you from chasing yours as well. Sadly, most people never realize the difference. 

 

If you’re working for someone else then you’re helping that person or that organization chase their dream. There is NOTHING wrong with that, many, in fact most, very successful people are employed by an individual or a company.

 

But they ALSO chase their own dream at the same time. 

 

I find it impossible to describe anyone as successful if they are merely chasing someone else’s dream. I can confidently say that I’ve never met a truly happy person who was chasing someone else’s dream at the expense of their own. 

 

But, and this is a big but…you must have a dream in order to chase it. Many people who work for other people helping them chase their dream don’t have definable dreams of their own to pursue. They seem to “settle.” 

 

They kind of float through life not even realizing they are chasing someone else’s dream. They get a paycheck that they divide up between their creditors and they think they are happy if there is something left for them at the end of the month. 

 

But there’s so much more to life when you’re chasing a dream of your own. The fullness of life comes from understanding your purpose in life. Your dreams come from your purpose.

 

I am fortunate that I figured out long ago that helping others chase their dream IS part of my dream. I succeed when those I help get closer to their dreams.

 

If you don’t know what your dreams are then some serious self-reflection is required. Have you ever considered what true happiness looks like to you? Have you ever defined success for yourself? Do you know why you’re doing the things you’re doing this very day? 

 

If you can answer those questions with a high degree of specificity then you have a path to success. If not then you have some work to do. 


The most successful people do not follow their dreams, they chase them. Find some running shoes and get a move on today!

Just Today

Everybody “knows” that nothing is perfect. Stuff happens, things go wrong, even the best plans don’t always work the way they were intended to. If you ever do start to think that everything is perfect then BOOM something goes wrong. You’re suddenly reminded why everyone “knows” that nothing is perfect. At least not for very long. 

 

And therein lies a tremendous opportunity. 

 

To have perfection in your life everyday you don’t need everyday to be perfect. You need only to be great today. If you decide to put in the effort required to make today perfect then you can have perfection everyday. 

 

Let’s make no mistake about this, the effort required is substantial. But having perfection everyday only requires that you make that effort today. The thought of maintaining a positive attitude every single day is daunting. The idea of giving your 100% best effort every minute of each and every day is overwhelming. The concept of pushing past whatever limits you think you have day after day after day gets tiring just thinking about it. 

 

So don’t worry about day after day. Don’t stress about every minute of each and every day. Don’t focus on every single day.

 

Maintain control of your attitude today. Give a 100% best effort only for today. Push past every limit you’ve ever imagined today. 

 

Don’t concern yourself with how you did yesterday or how you might tomorrow. Today is THE day! 

 

Every date on the calendar is a today. Each of those “todays” is different and unique. You must have plans to succeed but even a 10 year plan is made up of those individual days. Execute one day at a time. Make every day a best day. Control one day according to your plan without regard for the days gone by or the days to come. You cannot change the outcome of yesterday and tomorrow isn’t here yet.


You only have today to focus on your plans. Don’t worry about being great all the time, be great today. You’re the only one who knows you’re only great today, other people may very well think you’re great all the time. 

Success Can Only be Defined by You

Many years ago I was helping with a Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Speaking and Human Relations. Those classes are often made up of a very diverse group of people at varying stages of their lives and careers. They come from all walks of life and all income levels.

 

Even though I have not been in a Dale Carnegie class in many years I can vividly recall many of the participants. But one participant stands out above all others. He stands out because he caused me to redefine the meaning of success in my life. 

 

He was a senior level executive at one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies. He was a rarity. Some people were “sent” to a Dale Carnegie class by their organizations as a last ditch effort to “fix” them. But I’d never seen someone as his level required by their company to attend. 

 

This guy was one of the older people in the class and in every way I measured success at the time he was a huge success. Multiple houses, fast and fancy cars, a big title and a lofty position. He made tons of money. The guy pretty much looked and acted like the epitome of success.

 

As someone “required” to attend he didn’t have much to say in the first couple of weeks. He obviously didn’t want to be there but as is common in a Dale Carnegie course he was drawn out of his defensive posture in short order. 

 

As he began to open up during his presentations the tone and topics of his 2 minute talks (every Dale Carnegie Graduate is VERY familiar with 2 minute talks) changed dramatically. His focus moved from being all about himself to being about his family, especially one of his daughters. 

 

In his rush to succeed he had left his family behind and among his resentful family his adult daughter was most resentful of all. They rarely spoke. 

 

In week eight of that twelve week course he made a commitment to repair his relationship with his family and especially his daughter. At the final session the “graduates” are allowed to bring a guest along. This guy was so very proud to be accompanied by his daughter. 

 

As he delivered his final two-minute talk about what he got out of the course he said he learned a lot about himself and people in general. He said his relationships at work were much better and far more productive. 

 

But through his tears what he said he “got” from the class was his daughter back in his life. He said that for the first time in his life he felt like a success. He had a completely different outlook on what it meant to be a success. He said that for him success was no longer about what he had in his life but about who he had in his life. 

 

Dale Carnegie Instructors are supposed to help people change their lives, not the other way around. But lots of things changed for me that night, my definition of success was changed almost entirely. 

 

That was the last night I worked for any company. Since that night I’ve worked at a company but I’ve only worked for my family. By the way, I believe that makes me a much more effective asset for my employer, my customers and my colleagues. I get to go to work everyday and do something for the people who matter most in my life. There’s no better motivation than that.

 

That change in mindset has changed almost everything else too. I certainly could have had “more” but I couldn’t have had “better.” Some people would say I could have achieved more or made more or been more but those people are trying to apply their definition of success to me. 

 

My participant in that Dale Carnegie Course was 30 years into his career before he considered himself a success. Thanks to him I learned I could never succeed by chasing someone else’s definition of success. 

 

Neither can you!

 

Don’t allow anyone to tell you what success is “supposed” to look like in your life. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and smile back, if you are comfortable with your decisions and your actions, if you have even a handful of people in your life that matter to you and you matter to them, well then you are one of the most successful people ever to live. 


At least according to me.

Are You Talking to Yourself?

Even if you don’t realize it you’re likely talking to yourself, all the time. The experts call that self-talk. Self-talk is your inner voice, the one in your head that says stuff you wouldn’t necessarily say out loud. 

 

Most people don’t even realize this running conversation with themselves is happening all day long. But it is a powerful conversation. It can shape your day and even your life. It has as much impact on how you feel about yourself as anything someone else says about you. 

 

The challenge is that there are two kinds of self-talk. Positive self-talk and negative self-talk. Positive self-talk is saying stuff like “I can do this.” “I am prepared to succeed.” “I can make the best of any situation I find myself in.” 

 

Negative self-talk talk is saying things like, “I’ll never be able to do this.” “I am an idiot.” “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.” 

 

You get the idea. 

 

Here’s the thing, and this is big… negative self-talk just happens. For most people the cause of negative self-talk is self-doubt. Everyone has self-doubt but if you’re not consciously aware of it the result is negative self-talk. 

 

Positive self-talk only happens as a result of conscious effort. While negative self-talk can pop into your head with no prompting you must intentionally choose positive self-talk. And that’s not easy.

 

To consistently talk to yourself in a positive way you will need to be aware that you’re always having a conversation with yourself. You must also practice to be good at positive self-talk. Stopping a couple of times a day to reflect on what you’ve been saying to yourself is a good start. 

 

If it is not something that is making you feel better about yourself or your situation then look for evidence to determine if it’s true. If you find no proof then it’s likely self-doubt creeping into that conversation in your head. 

 

Shut that negative self-talk down. There is nothing good about it. It doesn’t help in any way. 

 

You may not be able to simply self-talk your way into success but lots of people have self-talked their way to failure. Don’t be one of those!

Are You Prepared to Succeed?

In any endeavor preparation is a key to success. That’s not exactly a profound statement because everybody knows that. But knowing that isn’t the challenge. Doing it is.

 

Preparation is the difference between being proactive and reactive. It is the difference between a stress inducing task and an anxiety free accomplishment. Preparation saves time and energy. Preparing for your day allows you to anticipate potential problems and have at least a limited plan for dealing with them. 

 

Preparation is possibly the greatest confidence booster ever. When you invest some time in preparing, for a meeting, an interview, a sales call or a difficult conversation you speak more authoritatively. It appears as if you actually know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. Imagine that. 

 

Most people who don’t prepare claim that they don’t have the time. Well if time is a concern for you then that’s the very reason you should be investing a bit of it in preparation. An hour of preparation will often shave two off the project or task.

 

Here’s one idea for you, it’s something I do every morning. 

 

If you were to look at my calendar you would see the same appointment every day, every single day. It’s from 5:00am to 5:30am. The appointment says “Planning and Solitude.” Every day!

 

It’s often the most important 30 minutes of my day. I invest those 30 minutes preparing to have a successful day. There are no interruptions and no distractions. It makes no difference what part of the world I’m in or what else may be happening. I and I alone control those 30 minutes. If that seems selfish then you should know that it is those 30 minutes that help me help others. 

 

Those 30 minutes chart my course for the day. Yes, unanticipated events may throw me off course temporarily but after I’ve dealt with those I have a course to get back on. Without preparation I wouldn’t. 


If all it takes is one disruption to send your day out of control then I highly recommend you steal 30 minutes for yourself early in the day. Use them to prepare yourself for success.