I’m sitting outside on a beautiful, sunny, early summer day eating my lunch on a bench in New York City.
Across from me, a guy is frantically scratching off Lotto cards: he buys four, tears the perforation, stacks the cards, and, one by one, scratches them off.
He gets up, walks back to the newsstand, buys and scratches off another four.
He gets up a third time, buys and scratches off another four. He gets up, walks back to the stand with one of the cards, and trades it for a new one—he won a new card.
He scratches that one off.
To watch his intensity in scratching off these cards is to see the story he’s telling himself: each time, there’s a chance (however small) that he’ll hit it big.
That is true.
What’s also true is what happens in practice: he spends money, he scratches, he loses. He spends money, he scratches, he loses.
This behavior leads to that result.
Scratching off Lotto cards is yet another form of hoping that lightning strikes us.
It also comes in the many ways we play small, keep our heads down, and hope that someone will notice us or pick us:
When we don’t invest in relationships because we’d prefer to “just do our work” and hope to be seen.
When we define our role in terms of the tasks we’ve mastered, without expanding our own orbit.
When we’re unwilling to make any tough decisions that put us on the hook.
When we give ourselves lots of emotional outs, so that we never care enough to say “I made this, I’m proud of it, I hope you are too.”
Yes, it is mathematically possible that continuing to do the old things will lead to a spectacular, positive, different outcome.
But if this behavior has, so far, led to that (disappointing) outcome over and over and over again, it might be time to take a step back and consider: how much of how I’m showing up is a form of wishing that lighting will strike one day?