Today, I want to share how you can win this lottery called life.
I’ve been reading and writing about the notion that you can make your own luck for over five years now. And for the past year or so, I’ve been praising the power of collaboration.
I say, for instance, that my work nowadays (such as it is) seems to be meeting and chatting with like-minded folks from all walks of life. They email me to say, “Want to have lunch?” and I say, “Of course!” We talk about podcasts or libraries or bicycling or comic books. Whatever strikes our fancy. And when we’ve finished our tea or our Thai noodles, nothing major seems to have happened.
What’s happened, however, is that we’ve both just received lottery tickets. By meeting and chatting and sharing ideas, we’ve been granted a ticket in the lottery of life.
And there are other ways to get lottery tickets too. Any time I try something new, I get a lottery ticket. Since I make it a point to try new things all of the time, I get a lot of lottery tickets.
- When I learn to drink coffee, I get a lottery ticket.
- When I learn to drink beer, I get a lottery ticket.
- When I learn to shoot a gun, I get a lottery ticket.
- When I learn to ride a motorcycle, I get a lottery ticket.
- When I learn to speak Spanish, I get a lottery ticket.
I’ve found another way to get these lottery tickets, too: I say “yes” things that seem scary or difficult. For instance, when I agree to speak on stage in front of one thousand people, I get a lottery ticket. When I fly to Ecuador to help people learn about financial and personal independence, I get a lottery ticket. When I spend six weeks locked in my office writing an e-book about money, I get a lottery ticket.
In short, any time I do something — especially something new — I get a lottery ticket.
But what do I win? Great question. Turns out, the prizes are pretty fucking awesome.
When I learned to speak Spanish, for example, I hit the jackpot. I made new friends (my tutor, my English student), traveled new places (Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador), read new authors (Neruda, García Marquez), tried new food, watched new movies, and more.
Today in Quito, I walked about ten miles across the city — up and down, up and down, up and down since Quito is nowhere near flat — spending part of my time on the teleférico, which is the cable-car that transports visitors up the mountainside from 9000-foot elevation to 13000-foot elevation.
During the steep fifteen-minute ride to the top of Pichincha Vulcano, I sat with two couples. They spoke only Spanish. If I didn’t know Spanish, I couldn’t have understood them, much less conversed. (Hell, I wouldn’t even be here in Ecuador if I couldn’t speak Spanish.) But I do speak Spanish, so I enjoyed a pleasant chat about one couple’s life in Venezuela and the other couple’s life here in Quito. Yet another small prize to add to the mountain of booty that I’ve obtained just because I spent some time learning another language.
Kim is awesome at playing this lottery. That gal gets tickets all the time. Because she’s a friendly and fun dental hygienist, her patients are constantly giving her things. In the eighteen months I’ve known her, she’s been given eggs, tickets to the country fair, tickets to a historical museum, tips on travel, and much much more. Remember how I recently sold my comics for a ton of money? (Wait, you can’t remember that because that article won’t go up at Get Rich Slowly until this Thursday!) Well, several thousand dollars of that came because we used one of Kim’s lottery tickets; one of her patients introduced us to a couple of folks who were interested in buying them.
To me, the best part is that one good thing often leads to another. Luck begets luck. When I win once, I get another winning ticket. I’ve reached the point where my entire life seems to be a series of fortunate events.
You know what doesn’t give you lottery tickets? Watching TV, for one. Also, playing videogames. Sorry, but there’s no payout for playing another round of Angry Birds. You don’t get lottery tickets for being a picky eater, being afraid to take calculated risks, and refusing to do the things that scare you.
Not every meeting and not every experience pays off. But many do provide a reward, and some of those rewards are enormous. Winning lottery tickets are so common and so fruitful, in fact, that I’ve almost become addicted to playing this lottery called life. I relish making new acquaintances, going new places, and trying new things.
So, get off your butt and go do something new today. Talk to a stranger. Try a new cuisine. There are still lots of prizes left in this lottery, but you have to be in it to win it.