I bought a lottery ticket last night. For me it is a whim, a
flight of fancy that I take every week or so knowing, of course, that my chance
of winning is so statistically remote, that my decision to fork over a dollar
bill is nothing more than my paying another tax to the coffers of inefficient
However, at the instant we buy the ticket, most of us experience,
if ever so briefly, the “what if” moment where we think about all the good we
could do, or all the things we could buy, if we actually won. But alas,
most of us know the truth. The odds are so stacked against us that our
chance of winning is far worse than one in a million, and that is bad
enough. The closest any of us will ever get to that jackpot is that ever
so brief “what if” moment. So, last night I felt the compelling urge of
the whim, and stopped into a nearby convenience store and bought another
statistically unlikely chance.
On Sunday morning, as I looked through my overnight emails, I read
Seth Godin’s very popular blog that seemed to scold me for actually acting on
my impulse. Mr. Godin, an innovative marketing consultant, best selling
writer, adept self-promoter and
author of the 15th most popular blog on
the Internet, used our hopes of winning the lottery as a metaphor to expose a
major failing in our present-day value system – the idea of the magic lottery
to achieving success while bypassing all the tough blocking and tackling
required to build a successful enterprise.
Starbucks did not become Starbucks as the result of an Oprah
Winfrey endorsement or being blessed by a Warren Buffet investment, Mr. Godin
points out. “No, they plugged along. They raised bits of money here
and there, flirted with disaster, added one store then another, tweaked and
measured and improved and repeated.
“Day by day, they dripped their way to success.”
Today we are seeing a wave of young entrepreneurs and corporate
executives in a hurry for success and the financial rewards to which they feel
entitled. They are looking for a shortcut to the top –the magic
Godin’s experience, insight, and his own route to amazing success,
provide a dose of reality. “Better, I think, to avoid wasting a moment of
your time hoping for a fairy godmother. You are in a hurry and this is a
Shortcomings, he points out, “are rarely reliable or particularly
Today there is a veritable rush for the quick, simple, and
painless solution. We seem to want our problems solved in the same amount
of time it takes for a 30-minute TV show to resolve its stars’ pressing crisis
of the episode. Our lifestyles need to be, apparently, as carefree and
seemingly perfect and rich as those of our designated pop personalities of the
We face a crush of problems, from oil spewing into the Gulf
wrecking a way of life, to the ongoing threat of another terrorist attack, to
serious challenges in healthcare, to an epic deficit crisis.
Accountability is on the decline while greed is on the rise, and our leaders
are more focused on politics as usual — issuing damaging if not disingenuous
sound bites and winning the next election cycle – than crafting creative
solutions brought from actually engaging in the process of governing.
Now Mr. Godin provides us with an inconvenient reminder that in
business as in life there is no magic lottery.
If there is to be a next “Greatest Generation” the Baby Boomers
and their offspring had best get busy.
Mr. Self is the President and Founder of JohnGSelf Associates, Inc., a healthcare executive search and human capital advisory services firm in Dallas. He has represented clients recruiting from Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East and North America
A highly rated speaker, Mr. Self has more than 30 years of healthcare experience, 16 years in executive search, and his record of talent selection is one of the best in the industry.
He is the 2010 Regent Award winner as the senior healthcare leader of the year in North Texas, an honor bestowed by the American College of Healthcare Executives.
© John G. Self, 2010