5 Lessons from a Lucky Man by Maria Dorfner

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I’m not exactly what people would call a barfly.  I know more about the characters in the sitcom “Cheers” than about any in a local bar.  There has to be something other than booze to get me to go to a bar.  I’d rather stay home and read a good book. 

Recently, it was my birthday. My sister asks me to go to a local bar. At first, I reply with my usual no thanks.  She adds, It’s Karaoke night while holding a mysterious bag that looks like it could be a birthday cake.  Now,we’re talking.

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The moment I sit on the bar stool, a forty-something guy wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap grabs the stool to my right.  He smiles at me and says, “I just won a million dollars on the scratch off.”  His buffalo wings arrive.

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I do my best impersonation of snarky Diane in “Cheers” and ask how that line is working out for him.  That’s when one of the friends in our group jumps in and says, “No he really did!  I’ve known him my whole life. ”  We’re all old, so that’s a long time.   The guy takes out his iPhone to show me a photo of him holding the check and other evidence. I inquire why he is sharing such information with me and he exclaims, “We’re family in here.  I’m surrounded by friends I’ve known and loved my entire life.  I’m a lucky man.” 

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I was still in character, so I sarcastically said it was nice to know his lifestyle hasn’t changed.

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He laughs and offers me buffalo wings.  I wave in a none for me thanks way and he says, “I didn’t change a thing. I’ve always been healthy that way.”  I told him that was great because a lot of people in the world think a million dollars is a lot of money and that it will completely change their lives. It does not.”

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He said, “Exactly. I wish more people knew that.”  We talked about healthy attitudes.  Then, I laughed and asked him if I could blog about it and he said, “Sure, just don’t use my real name. I want to remain private.”  That’s not him in the photo. Or me. Or anyone I know. 

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So, Harry (not his real name) shared 5 Healthy Lessons he learned after his win:

1. Don’t quit your day job. He was an electrician by trade and he said he always loved the camaraderie on his job. He knew if he left he’d lose his reason for getting up every day. I asked him about people who hate their jobs. He said he’d advise those folks to find something that motivates them to get up each morning. He’s good at what he does, which is the key to finding something you love. When you love to do something, you get good at it –and do it anyway.   It’s a treat to get paid.

2. Help, but don’t spoil your family. Harry has two kids that are married with kids. He helped one with a down payment on a car, but the kid has to make the monthly payment so he learns responsibility. He helped the other pay off a credit card with the caveat that if he maxed it out again, he was on his own. Each month, he gives them a gift check for an amount that is reasonable, not excessive.

3. Don’t spend it all in one place. He upgraded to a new house, but it’s in the same neighborhood he lived in before. He could have blown the whole thing on a house to impress other people, but decided he’d need a lot more for upkeep, so he remained practical.

4. Think of the future. He said the temptation for most people is to go nuts with the money. You’ll end up nuts and broke that way. Harry opted to receive monthly payments instead of a lump sum. Here’s where it doesn’t make you rich comes into play. After taxes, it’s like being paid a salary of 50K a year for twenty years. He was grateful, but aware he shouldn’t start living like he was on a million dollar a year salary.

5. Think of others. Now that he didn’t have to work to earn 50K a year, he liked the idea that the money he made at his day job could be discretionary income. This meant instead of having to work for himself to survive, he could work to help others survive.  He donates to people he knows, not charities that are too large to be accountable for how they’ve spent it.  He said a lot of people he didn’t know tried to become his friend after they learned he won but he says,  “The best friends are the ones that don’t care if you’re rich or poor. They treat you the same, either way.”

So, there you have it.  Of course, people can do whatever they want but good advice comes from experience.

His final insight is that there is no such thing as luck. I agree with him as I’ve always believed luck is hard work and opportunity meeting in the right place. Oprah said that a long, long time ago. I wrote it down.  Oprah rules!  Back to Harry.  Harry’s been playing the scratch off games his entire life. No Lotto. Just scratch. If he hadn’t gotten up early to pick up a ticket before work, he wouldn’t have won. He still took an action that led to a result.

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He laughed and added, “It takes a lot of work to gamble as much as I do. I set aside a certain amount each month that I can afford to lose. I won ten thousand dollars in the past. They say people who win the lottery have a greater chance of winning it again. It’s true. My buddies tease me about it at work. You know that saying the harder you work, the luckier you get? Well, the more I gamble, the luckier I get. I’m not saying people should start gambling. I’m just saying a lucky man makes his own luck and a healthy one lives his life so he doesn’t have to change a thing if he does win.”

The healthy attitude includes living a healthy lifestyle now without excuses such as, “When I have a million dollars I’ll do x or y” because true wealth will always come from inside you.

He kept offering to buy me drinks.   I thanked him, but asked for water refills instead.   At the end of the night he said goodnight to everyone because he had to get up early for work the next morning.  

Then, he exclaimed, “Maria…I am a Lucky Man.” 🙂

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