You Gotta Be In It To Win It

Powerball Lottery 2016

I was pretty much born and raised around the lottery. I mean it was even kind of a gamble for my mother to give birth to me considering the circumstances at the time. She was a single mom with very little help and support, and many of her friends told her not to have a baby. And I have to be honest, during my teenage years she definitely must of wished at one time or another that she listened to them. You see we grew up in Brooklyn and as little kids we had to either fight to survive or get taken advantage of. I remember having to fight to keep my new sneakers on in middle school. They wanted to “trade” with me; in other words give me their old sneakers for my new ones. Not long after, I joined a small gang in my school and I began to win. You gotta be in it to win it, right?! I won friendship, respect, and a team of kids around me… that if you messed with one of us, you messed with us all. This was years before Giuliani showed up on the scene and did “Operation Clean-Up” on the streets. I am telling you, it was a free-for-all back then.

Growing up I remember my Grandmother Josephine who used to get a ticket or two for a chance to win the jackpot. When she purchased the ticket, she would hold onto it like gold. When it was time for the numbers to be drawn on TV, she gave us that look where we had two choices… shut up or die. Then as each number was called out, she would either scream happily that she got it or suck her teeth in disappointment. My mother and step-dad were big on the lotto too. She would buy a bunch of tickets for every drawing, and he would buy even more. He had a system down where he played the same numbers over and over, changing one or two every once in a awhile; while she depended on “lucky numbers” she had in her life including birthdays. Every once in awhile, my mom would win a few hundred dollars, and my step-dad would win a few thousand, sometimes even as much as five.

I grew up knowing that you gotta be in it to win it. Those who did not play that lotto did not lose any money playing it, but they also did not win any either. Paying a few bucks toward our luck and dreams was a small tab compared to the amount of hope we were given and the chance to win millions. Did anyone in our family ever hit it big? No. But we heard the stories and saw the people who did. So we kept betting against all odds.

Recently, with the stakes up to $900 Million on the Powerball Lottery, my family has been pretty much “investing” in a chance to win. Everything from calculating number patterns from the past few months of drawings, to going to several different stores to get tickets, to asking the little ones their favorite number from 1 – 69. After the drawing, we had all of the winning numbers, but they were all on different tickets. So now the time comes again where the jackpot is over $1 Billion Dollars and everybody wants a piece of the pie.

I now think about life, business, and relationships; and how you definitely gotta be in it to win it. Being alive and living are two different things. How many times have we all been somewhere, but we are not really there in heart and soul? So many times for me. I have been hiking the mountains, looking at my smartphone every moment to see if I have gotten reception already; missing the peace, fresh air and chance to clear my mind. How many times have we been at work, but we were still on vacation; and did not apply ourselves to the maximum extent for the sake of the whole team? Is your company losing because you work there, but you are not in it to win it? How many times have we given half of ourselves because that was enough to at least get by?

Then I think about relationships and how many beautiful people are out there. I meet them all of the time. I talk to people who gave their all when it came to love, only to end up hurt and even hateful sometimes when the dust settles. Why? Because for whatever reason, one of the two were not in it to win it. Maybe they did not want to have a successful relationship with this person? Or they never had a good relationship, so when it presented itself, they rejected it. Or maybe they simply didn’t know how to truly love someone, so they were only giving the type of love they received in life, which was none. Or maybe my friend, the person I was talking to, was not in it to win at the start; and then when they finally realized their shortcomings, it was too late.

What type of person do you want to be in life? How do you want to live? Do you want to hate? Then haters may be the crowd you are looking for. Do you want to lose? Then it is not hard to find a few folks that always think they are losing out on something. Do you want to win? Then align yourself with winners and people of that mindset! The time has come for many of us to let our failures go, chase our passions like never before, and open up to love again! You gotta be in it to win it!

A Fool Answereth Before He Heareth

I remember many years ago, while skimming over the book of Proverbs, I came across a verse that said “a fool answereth before he heareth.” I wanted to know what it meant. I asked a mentor of mine and he said… “I have looked into that a few times, and the best way to explain it is that there are always two or more sides to a story.” A light went off in my head and I was like WOW! With the wide diversity of people in life, the many ways we see, understand and perceive things… and then mix that in with our own feelings, psychology, and what we really wanted or envisioned; and needless to say, so many sides of the story start coming to life. We have all heard that some folks just view it differently; and then there are others that just didn’t hear the whole story or see the big picture. And it is true. Let me tell you… it is hard to put the puzzle together when you only have one or a few of the pieces.

Asheville Buskers

I was walking with my family in Downtown Asheville recently. We had just eaten an incredible dinner at Table and a light mist of rain was falling on us as we strolled around. When we got to the corner where the Vance Monument is located, I could hear a busker up ahead playing music right in front of Rhubarb. I went in my pocket, pulled out a dollar, and gave it to my daughter in support of this musician and the street music scene in my hometown, and also to teach her the concept of giving. We crossed the street, she ran over and put the money in the instrument case, and I took a short GoPro video. While I was taking the video, some guy walked up, smirked at me, and dropped money in the case in a way for everyone to see. I did not know who he was putting a show on for, but it was evident he had something going on. My wife and daughter were play dancing, and this same guy walks by us with his girlfriend and says “why don’t you give him some money” with that same smirk on his face. I guess he showed up right after we did, and did not see that we tipped the musician “before the show” instead of after like he did. So he must of had a moment of self-righteousness where he felt as if he was better than the next man. I thought about how people can be so judgmental and opinionated when they think they know it all. I also wondered why this guy was hanging out in Downtown Asheville with his girlfriend and made it his concern whether I tipped or not. Why didn’t he stop the other folks that walked by, not even acknowledging the busker, during the time we were there? What if we didn’t have any cash on us? Why did he choose to confront me, my wife and my child? I don’t know, but it is usually the case where they have other issues in their life and they are projecting it on someone else, even a stranger, that they know nothing about. Little did he know that me and my family go downtown regularly and support buskers all around town, and have even done campaigns to keep and extend the rights of the busking community. I thought “what a fool.”

Then I thought, have I ever been the fool? And I surely have. I have listened to half stories, only hearing the part that my friends were telling, never giving a fair chance to the other folks involved in this equation, especially when I did not like them. Years ago, I went through one of the most abusive relationships in my life. Something became evident with my mate, I became broken inside, and simply demanded communication and an explanation over the situation so we could work this out. She would not talk, but she did give me two options: either let it go or leave! I was like WHAT?! The little bit of hope I had was then lost. We tried for a short time after in silence to move on without resolution, but it did not work out. I was in such pain that I ran away. She was then so nervous that I would tell my family what had really happened, that she went and made up stories against me in an attempt to destroy my life and relationship with my heritage. What was sad is that my own family believed what she was saying before ever even talking to me. I had always thought that I could “fall back” on them, but now I was at a point in my life where I felt as if I had nothing left. As you can see today, we have made it through, and shining like never before. There are just some things in life that we do not plan to face, but we are bound to endure. The point being that all of this happened because of several people who were not completely informed of the situation, let the gavel down on me instead of trying to help and before a “fair trial” even begun. This has taught me in life to never judge a book by its cover, and that things aren’t always what they seem. I guess you get a better perspective once you are a victim of it. I am grateful today that I listen a little deeper, understand that one person usually doesn’t have all of the details, and then I am slow to react to what I hear.

Did this understanding stop these situations from happening to me in life? No. Did it happen again? Yes! I disassociated myself from a business partner because of several questionable situations, and then they ran to everyone I introduced them to in my community, played the victim, and slandered me horribly; causing my whole family to suffer tremendously and the start-up business I had just launched to struggle upstream. And this was right after they told another mutual friend of ours my confidential businesses strategy, which they then used to enhance a competitive business. We felt somewhat defeated again. Several great folks that we trusted, believed in, and thought were our friends were now gone forever. All we could do was keep on keeping on. It was then I realized that the people who listen to half-truths are as foolish as the ones telling them. They both are a part of the process in disrupting life and corrupting true community.

G Social Media Daughters

I make it a habit to go out of my way to meet new people and learn a little bit more about them. And I meet so many wonderful folks all of the time. I kinda call it real life social media. I believe those who have gotten to know me, know the true person I am somewhat and how much I try to contribute to my family, my community and our world. On the other hand, there are those who do not want to get to know me, mostly because all of their judgments and prejudices would prove invalid. They rather come to their own conclusions and have an answer before they even listen to my heart, know what I’ve been through, meet my beautiful kids, hear about the many lives I have been instrumental in saving, and witness the good that I have planted… knowing that it will soon grow and return to me one day.

I think about the Steven Avery case which is very big in the news right now. Against all evidence and common sense, it seems that a conviction of someone they disliked, and law enforcement not being proved wrong; was more important than catching the real culprit. As a matter of fact, they even knew the truth and refused to hear it. How many times are we guilty of that? What fools they are and shame on them for allowing things like this happen. And the whole documentary is not just about Steven Avery, it is about raising awareness of the type of society we have become. It is about the great need of reformation in a system that is more concerned about being right and protecting corruption, than they are about learning and upholding the truth that our Country is supposedly built on.

My friend told me awhile back to “believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear” and I laughed. But the more I experience, the more true that saying becomes. Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions, as many times in haste, we are then proven wrong in the long run. Listen long and deep, then let your answers be slow and full of wisdom.