Norton: Didn’t win the lottery? Keep hope (column) | VailDaily.com

Norton: Didn’t win the lottery? Keep hope (column)

Michael Norton
Valley Voices

How about the excitement most of us recently experienced during the lotteries? Mega Millions turned into billions of dollars and Power Ball, as of the writing of this column, is creeping up on a billion dollars, too. Wow, talk about excitement, energy and hope.

Now I know that we all don't play the lottery. As a matter of fact, I am not someone who would normally play the lottery, either. And in other posts and blogs I really advocated for people not to gamble their life savings away or compromise their ability to pay their bills or provide for their families as they caught up in lottery fever.

Yet, like many of you and others around the country, I had this feeling that I should at least buy a ticket or two. After all, you got to be "in it to win it," right? I mean the odds are in our favor at a 1 in 300,000,000 chance to win?

What I have enjoyed most as I watched the pot build and the potential winnings escalate week after week is talking with the people who were so hopeful and optimistic. Or overhearing those same conversations by others near me in a restaurant, in the grocery line or on an airplane. The hope was contagious.

You know how the conversations go don't you? They sound something like this, "When I win the lottery, I am going to …" or "If I win the lottery, I am going to …" And we can fill in the blanks with everything that we have heard or maybe even thought of ourselves. Pay off all my debt and the debt of my family. Donate 50 percent to charity. Buy a house in this neighborhood or that city. Support my church and the missions that we finance. Buy a boat, no not a boat, a yacht. No not a yacht, a fleet of yachts. And the list goes on and on. It is fantasy land, it is fun to dream, it is a vortex of hope in the land of hope and dreams.

Willing to Change Lives

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A friend of mine in Australia, Martin, recently reminded me of something that has nothing, and yet everything to do with our recent lottery frenzy. He was telling me about a moment of personal reflection and prayer where he felt led to act upon the thought, "Don't worry about doing something big Martin, just do something good." Think about that for a moment. We don't have to win the lottery to do something good, we can be doing good right now.

As always, I love talking with people in the community. And as I waited in line to buy my own tickets, I really enjoyed the conversations I had with people. The smile in their eyes, the hope in their hearts, their very best of intentions revealed if only they could buy the winning ticket. Hope was born. Now I am not saying that they didn't already have hope, but I think you would agree with me that the recent lottery fever had many people even more hopeful than they were before.

With all of those millions and billions of dollars we had won in our minds, we were willing to change our lives, our family's lives, our community, our house of worship and in some way even the world. It feels so good to hear those thoughts and have those thoughts, doesn't it?

'Things Money Can't Buy'

Let's take away the millions and billions of dollars for now, as it is only a matter of time before we do win. But let's pretend that we never win that much money, can we still find that same passion and sense of purpose of how we can help others? Can we think about the changes we want to make in our own lives, as small as they may be, and make those changes anyway? Can we walk into the store to buy something other than a lottery ticket and still have hope filled and hopeful conversations with people we run into? Can we donate a few dollars instead of millions?

Zig Ziglar used to say about money: "I have had money and I haven't had money, all things being equal, I would rather have money. Money is kind of like oxygen: when you really need it, there is no substitute. But here's the thing with money; money will buy you a bed, but not a good night's sleep; money will buy you a house, but not a home; money will buy you a companion, but not a friend; and money will buy you a good time, but not peace of mind. You see, we want all the things money will buy, but we also want more of the things money won't buy."

So how about you? Are you hope filled and hopeful whether you win the lottery or not? Can you make good contributions today and not wait or worry about having to do something big? I would love to hear your story at gotonorton@gmail.com and when we can remember just how powerful hope is, and how we can make a difference today, it really will be a better-than-good-week.

Michael Norton is the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.