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How to win the lottery

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

How to win the lottery

Scott Miker

There is a structure that I often see in books, speeches and other resources.  It usually goes something like this…

What if I told you that I know the secret to winning the lottery?  I know the one thing that every single lottery winner has done that has helped him win the lottery.  It doesn’t matter how superstitious you are because this one thing is so powerful nobody will ever win without doing it. 

I’ve read a lot about the Power of Intention and the power of attraction and about using vision boards to succeed.  Through it all I have discovered the key that most people miss. 

Hopefully I’ve got you interested at this point.  The secret is… you have to buy a ticket!  And you have to buy the right ticket!  If you have tried and failed it is because you bought the wrong ticket.  So I went out and interviewed lottery winners to determine how they figured out the right ticket and their tactics can work for you too!

I’m sure many people read that and thought, “well duh, but buying a ticket doesn’t mean you are going to win the lottery.  And whatever strategy they used to buy their ticket doesn’t mean that if I use that strategy I will win too.  There is too much chance and luck here.”

Exactly.  I’m using this example to highlight a pattern used by many people throughout history.  Business books are filled with this structure.  Motivational speakers rely on this structure at times also. 

They start by making wild claims that they discovered something everyone else missed.  They distract from reality to create a world where it all makes sense and we just have to trust this person/book/company etc. to help us.

I love looking at it systematically because we can see through some of the BS to see that many times they are just looking at the winners and then finding similarities.  But that doesn’t actually translate to a cause and effect relationship.  Using systems thinking we see that they are just isolating various elements of the system and assuming causality when there isn’t any. 

Most of the time we can still gain insight from these sources.  They may claim that every successful business starts with asking why or that they had core values or a mission statement or any number of other claims.  It could be that they had connectors working for them or that found the tipping point. 

But if we really examine many of these, we don’t find concrete science.  We find statistics that are picked to specifically validate their point.  Their goal isn’t to find the answer; it is for something else… to make money.  They know to sell you something it has to grab your attention and create word-of-mouth advertising.  The best way to do this is by finding these wild claims and building enough of a case to convince the reader that they found some new magic button.

I don’t mean to criticize these people because many times they really do have very useful insight to share.  I only highlight this structure so we don’t get too caught up in believing everything as truth.

The systems thinker usually can see through this.  We don’t think linearly (cause and effect, start and finish, beginning and end etc.).  Instead we see many variables that all interact to create something unique. 

We can see that, yes every lottery winner bought a ticket but so did every loser. Their right ticket wasn’t because of something they did, it was luck.  99.99% of the time they would choose those numbers they would lose.  Just because they got lucky doesn’t mean they figured out some magic strategy to win. 

We can see this with businesses as well.  We can see that Apple did some amazing things but also was at the right time for a technology business and many variables aligned to help them become such a success.  Yes Steve Jobs did some incredible things but even Apple being able to convince him to come back has an element of chance.  Yet people use Apple as an example to prove their theory of some magic element all the time.

So instead of finding some single factor that will change everything, use systems thinking to see many interacting factors and then work to change your own situation to try and gain as many advantages as possible.  Work to improve; don’t work to find a magic button (or the right lottery ticket).  Then we can pull insight from these resources instead of assuming they are 100% truth.