How Many Lottery Tickets Do You Have?

November 11, 2016

Million dollar ideas in radiology.

Recently, while catching up with a friend, I was giving an update on a somewhat pie-in-the-sky entrepreneurial venture of mine. It had recently gotten slightly less theoretical, yet was still far from being a “going concern,” as the accountants might say. I described it as having gone from being a pipe dream to a lottery ticket.

In terms of probability, not much of a difference between the two. Extremely long odds against either coming to pass. But, in getting a lottery ticket, one has a quantifiable (if infinitesimal) chance at a massive payoff that a non-ticket-holder does not. It required some action, however small, to get that ticket in the first place. And there’s something about that ticket that gives the holder license to enjoy, at least for a time, the fantasy of suddenly soaring to otherwise unattainable heights.

For the literalists out there, no, I’m not here to suggest that it’s a good habit to pick up a few Powerball tickets each week. I’m talking about the more metaphorical lottery tickets that you probably already have. Yes, even if you are perfectly contented with your life as is. The more you think about it, the more you’ll probably realize you possess.

Let’s start with your job (assuming you have one). Even the most humdrum employed position with no upward mobility, as long as you keep turning up and doing good work, has a few tickets buried within for you. For instance, suppose folks at the top of the chain of command take a hike (they sell the practice, perhaps, or the hospital chain of command decides it doesn’t like your department’s leadership anymore), and suddenly you’re the most senior, tried/tested/proven one remaining. Not inconceivable that you find yourself being offered a role as section head, maybe even partner in a new PC.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"53780","attributes":{"alt":"Ideas in radiology","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7403052131669","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6738","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 170px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Vector Goddess/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Or, tangentially, your current gig remains the same it has always been…but a former colleague who left the place years ago, remembering what a good teammate you were and having found himself in a better situation, hollers your way when his current venue undergoes such a reorganization. He’s not just giving you a leg-up out of gratitude for how nice you were back in the day; he (and whoever he’s working with now) wants to build a solid team to maximize the chances of their own new venture by letting you, a known asset, in on the ground floor.

Maybe you get involved in a professional society, and next thing you know you’re holding elected office in one. Maybe that leads to a successful political career that you could never have predicted for yourself. Perhaps you give some feedback to a software or hardware manufacturer, and next thing you know they want you to be their physician consultant for the visible future. Or you volunteer to sit on some committee or another, and down the pike it gets you on short-lists for executive posts.

Or maybe you try your hand at writing an online radiology blog…heaven only knows where that could lead.