Sunday, May 3, 2015

Worth More Than the Lottery

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

Winston Churchill

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit."

Conrad Hilton

"If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying. "Here comes number seventy-one!"

Richard M. Devos

I read a story (and I don’t know if it’s true, but I think it is) of a man in England who played the same lottery numbers every day for years. Then one day he didn’t play and on that day his numbers were called.  He was so despondent over his missed chance, so the story goes, that he killed himself. 
Sometimes, through no fault of our own, we miss our chance.  This weekend I missed two chances to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  It made me feel sick and sad and angry at the circumstances.  It felt unfair, like “a bad hop in baseball, or a bad call by a referee,” as Steven Pressfield states in The War of Art.  It felt unfair, because it was.  But here’s what it didn’t feel like.  It didn’t feel like a punishment from God, or “a sign of Heaven’s malevolence.” (Pressfield, again.)  It wasn’t a sign at all.  It was just bad luck
In the book Good Luck the authors state that good luck is what we do with the occasional luck we get.  For example, if I win $1,000,000 on a lottery ticket, that’s luck.  If I invest most of that money and increase what I invested, that’s good luck. In other words, we have some control over luck, and even more control over our lives than we are willing to admit.  We can also take the bad breaks we get and turn them into good luck, too.
Let’s look at the unlucky lottery loser.  How could he have turned his bad luck into good luck?
He could have come up with a new combination of numbers to play.
He could have focused on other ways to win, or earn, money.   
He could have focused on the importance money seemed to have in his life and perhaps adjusted his priorities so that it wasn’t worth his life.
What do I do about my bad luck?
I Keep Going.
That’s all it was – bad luck.  To turn it into good luck then, I do my work.  I work.  I write.  I wait.  My priorities are good.  My goals are good.  They are the right ones.  How do I know this?  Because they are the only goals God has given me.  And they are the specific ones He has given me.  How do I know this?  Because even when things go wrong, even when they hurt or I get scared, there is still nothing else I want.  There is nothing else that gives me such joy as the thought of attaining my goals.
Also, there is no Plan B.  Working towards my goals gives me joy.  So I know reaching them will also give me joy.  So I focus on that joy, despite inevitable pain and disappointments.  I Keep Going.  What I want to achieve is worth far more than winning the lottery.  All of us should feel this way about our goals.  What’s at stake for me is more valuable than money.  What’s at stake is my heart and soul.
Does that sound overly dramatic?  It doesn’t matter.  It feels as if everything is at stake.  Do I think about giving up sometimes?  Honestly, not with any real seriousness.  The reason is that when I imagine my life without having reached my goal, I always imagine going back and trying again.
I Get Started.  I Keep Going.  That’s all I know because that’s all there is.