I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He feels pretty stuck in his life situation. His solution? Buying the occasional lottery ticket. Now it might be fun to buy a ticket now and then to enjoy the fantasy, but it's not a plan. Perhaps it does not help that so many of his perfectly reasonable plans just did not pan out. Time and money spent on higher education only got him more debt. Good job offers fell though, and so on. Come to think of it, the occasional lottery ticket is no worse a plan than anything else he's tried.
When you read about success stories, they always start with the successful person and work backwards. You hear about the guy who takes a big chance and it pays off. You don't hear about the twenty guys who did nearly the same thing and had it blow up in their faces.
Successful people, when talking about how they got there, often neglect some key facts or gloss them over. They might have numerous failures before their success, but had family or other resources that allowed them to fail. It's hard to try again when failure leaves you homelessness, in debt, and socially ostracized.
They discount how much just plain dumb luck had in their success. It's the rare person who admits that it was a chance meeting or an accidental discovery that allowed them to succeed. You also rarely hear how they “Came into this town with just two million to my name and I turned it into a fortune.”
Let's face it, there are some people who are born with what it takes to succeed in a particular place and time. They just happen to have an aptitude for what's valued. Sure, it takes work to develop skills, but don't discount natural ability. Practice and training won't make a five foot tall man a pro basketball player. Someone with a tin ear won't be a professional musician. A person may been born with the potential to be the world's greatest military mind, but was born into a small peaceful country so spends life as a chimney sweep.
Much depends on how you measure success. In our society it often boils down to one's ability to acquire vast piles of money. We aren't selecting for manners and poetry. There have been times and places where manners and poetry have been the skills needed. Those were useful when the key to success was being entertaining at the king's court.
As for myself, I consider myself successful. My time is my own. There's opportunity for travel and adventure. I've great kids. Heck, I even got the girl. The only thing I'm lacking is money. People are often amazed at how much I do with so little. That just might be another one of the skills I have an aptitude for. I won't look down on people who can't do something with nothing. They didn't have my experiences and natural inclinations.