Plan Like You Are Playing the Lottery

This Week’s Thought

Creating a plan and checking off progress sounds simple, but simple things are often overlooked. As a result, people set big priorities and leave too much to chance.


Depending on when you read this message, I may already be a wealthy man. I just purchased a ticket for the Mega Millions lottery. The drawing is Friday, July 29 @ 11 p.m. (eastern). With an estimated jackpot of $1.02 billion, I’m starting to dream about how I will spend the money.

If you are reading this before the drawing, allow me to clue you in on the winning numbers:

05  06  12   18  29  51

Those are the numbers that the lottery machine randomly generated when I put my two dollars on the counter in hopes of turning them into big bucks. Generally, I don’t buy lottery tickets, but I did buy one this week so I could snap a photo to share with you.

I find it interesting that people spend their hard-earned money on the chance to turn a dollar or two into millions. The odds of winning are staggeringly low, but they still do it. I imagine the idea of turning a little bit into a lot can be exciting.

Playing the lottery can teach us a helpful lesson about creating plans to accomplish our priorities. Like the lottery, where you are trying to turn little amounts into big bucks, an effective plan is also designed to turn a little into a lot. However, unlike the lottery, where you are counting on luck to achieve results, a good plan leaves little to chance.

I designed this week’s video and tool to help you to turn little actions into big results by asking you to break down your priorities into actionable steps. At the top of the tool, write down one of your top priorities and explain why that priority matters. Think through the small steps you will need to take each week to accomplish your goal. Write down the steps and the weeks on the tool. At the beginning of each week, look at your plan to ensure that the week’s actions are scheduled on your calendar. When completing the task, return to this tool and mark the step complete.

Creating a plan and checking off progress sounds simple, but simple things are often overlooked. As a result, people set big priorities and leave too much to chance, just like playing the lottery.

In the most recent episode of the Leadership Lab podcast, I talk to a guest who knows a great deal about leaving nothing to chance. Oscar Suris is President of Edelman’s New York operation and a crisis communication expert. As New York President, Oscar oversees the company’s largest global office of 800-plus employees. He joins me in the Leadership Lab to discuss staying connected with stakeholders, putting situations into perspective, and exhaling and enjoying the moment.


This Week’s Questions

  1. When was the last time that you failed to develop a plan to accomplish one of your priorities?
  2. What was the result of failing to plan? Did you get luck or did you pay a price?
  3. How can you plan better in the future?

Today’s Challenge

Think of one colleague or team member who could benefit from better planning. Spend a moment to share the video and tool with that person. Simply say that you are working to become a better planner and thought they might find this useful too.

Episode 153: Exhale and Enjoy the Moment with President of Edelman NYC Oscar Suris

Planning Worksheet