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Don’t let lottery-thinking prevent you from doing the hard work of achievement.

This morning I joined a quick social media chat about a very commonplace topic: Why do some salespeople still dismiss email inquiries? Yes, this problem still exists: and it’s not solvable by technology alone. Nobody can claim they can’t “get” their emails in a timely fashion any more. They can only claim they opted not to answer them.

At first this behavior seems confusing, until we think: it’s a symptom of a bigger and more pervasive problem many of us have.  We’ve misunderstood the sources of success, growth, achievement, winning – whatever you call it. We’re waiting for “windfall” moments to make it happen. One of these days, we’re going to get lucky, and then….

The odds of being struck by lightning are one in 700,000.

The odds of winning the Powerball: 1 in 175.2 million.

The odds of converting an email to a client: Certainly much lower.

Small steps taken every day are what lead to success. Writers must sit and tap out a thousand words a day, to write a book. Athletes repeat drills, over and over and over, in between games. Leaders make little pushes and pulls to their organization regularly – nudging their people’s performance steadily over time. It’s easier to climb the mountain by crossing a gentle-sloping plain than scaling a steep, sheer wall.

It makes me wonder: What kind of thinking makes it possible to disregard potential business, just because it’s by email (or Twitter)? Besides being a very bad way to treat people, it seems a very unserious way to treat one’s career. It makes me think of all the trade show attendees I’ve watched over the years, leaving with bags full of quick-fix products that promise to win them the lottery. The irony is that they probably went into the trade show with the best ticket for winning they will ever need:

In the form of an unanswered email sitting right there on their smartphone.

What do you think?