Why the Long Road Is the Only Road to Success

Note: This is a guest post from Adam Appleson of ZenTactics

Let’s say I gave you two road to success. The first road is super-quick, it all happens in an instant. It’s like taking the express elevator to the top floor of a tall building. The second road involves multiple steps, is long and hard, and would take you considerably more time. It feels like taking the flight of stairs in a tall building.

Imagine that. You have an instant, guaranteed route to success with the first route. But what if I told you that you’d be better off taking route #2?

How can this be?
Let’s find out.

Route #1: You’re given the winning lottery ticket to a multi-million dollar jackpot. You walk off the job, ready to let the good times roll.

Route #2: You start a business that provides a valuable service or product to customers day-in and day-out. It may even involves living hand-to-mouth for a while because you have to keep expenses down. You work tirelessly day and night, and sometimes you wonder if it will all work out. But you persist, and eventually you become successful with it.

After looking at the routes, don’t tell me which one you really want.
I already know. Because most people I talk to always want route #1. Who doesn’t want the easy way out? If your job is stressful, requires long hours, and you don’t really like it, you want instant relief. A winning lottery ticket sounds like the way to go.

But before you cash in your winning lottery number, let’s look at some true stories of lottery winners.
Ken Proxmire was a machinist from Michigan who won 1 million dollars. He started a car business with his brothers, and within 5 years was broke.

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery two times — in 1985 and 1986 — a 5.4 million dollar jackpot. After losing it all to gambling and giving it away to all the people who asked, Evelyn now lives in a trailer.

The truth is, the same thing could have happened to you or me, for one simple reason.
We weren’t ready for it. When we are given something instantly that we haven’t prepared for, we don’t know how to handle it. Learning how to earn and manage money are skills. To become truly great at something requires practice, persistence, and discipline.

And that’s why you need route #2 to build success that lasts.
Route #2 is why the creators of the successful Guitar Hero video game franchise, Eran Egozy and Alex Rigopulos, are so successful. They went broke several times when they were first starting out. They tried creating a joystick music improvisation system which flopped. Then they developed a product that they thought would help them break into the $10 billion dollar a year karaoke industry in Japan. That also flopped. At one point, they had zero revenue coming into the company. They finally created a non-music game that had better sales than their previous efforts, but it wasn’t their vision of long term success. They really wanted a successful music game.

But the great thing about falling down is that it’s a great feedback mechanism.
Screwing up leads you to try new things if you persist. In fact, scientists say that learning from our mistakes is how we learn to perform better. And when you persist, you acquire the motivation, skills, and the discipline needed to hold on to the success you earn. That’s why when a company, RedOctane, proposed that Alex and Eran make the Guitar Hero game while they made the controller, Alex and Eran jumped at the opportunity. The rest as they say is history. Alex and Eran created one of the best-selling video games of all time. I’ve played it with friends and had a good time. Maybe you have too.

So take the long road.
It’s the road that gives you the skills you need to hang on to the success you earn. And when you do that, you’re building success that lasts.

Adam Appleson is the author of All You Need Is One, a guide for helping child abuse survivors make new friends. He is also the founder of ZenTactics, a website that helps abuse survivors grow and heal with personal development articles on topics such as goals and motivation.

Photo by Nicholas_T


  1. Great post! It almost flies in the face of what we would think would happen to people who win huge sums of money, but it’s so true. Many Lotto winners face depression and loss of motivation, isolation and marital problems.

    Traveling the road to success builds the muscles required to travel that road in the first place. Those same muscles are needed to deal with everything else that goes with it.

    I suppose winning the Lotto would be something akin to placing a sedentary man in the middle of a marathon and yelling, “Keep up!”

  2. This is so true, building a strong foundation from the ground up will not only provide you with financial security for the long haul, but gives you a very strong sense of appreciation for it.

    It’s the same with everything in life. Everything is a process and that process is a long road full of blocks and pot holes.

    But persistence and dedication gets through it all. Great and important post!

  3. Very well said. I can remember vividly, a conversation I had a few years back about this same subject. I was talk with some co-workers about winning the lottery. I made a comment about how I thought it would be better to actually earn the money that was given to me instead of just winning it. They both laughed at me. The funny thing about the story is that they were both much older than me. I figured they should have also been wiser, but I was wrong. Great article!

  4. Hi Adam,
    You are so right on this. There is a television show (I forget the name) that features people who have won the lottery and all it has gotten them was heartache, pain, paranoia and in most cases leaves them with less money than they had before buying the ticket.

    Also most people play the lottery for many years before winning it.

    There are no guarantees no matter which route you take. Both have their frustrations and rewards. But personally, I like to create my own success and am therefor on the long road. πŸ™‚

  5. Thanks, it’s such an educative topic, but I just believe that winning a lottery is also another long route to success. As Lisa said, the problem is preparation; the winner was not properly prepared or ready to handle such a huge fortune.

  6. Much of what you say is true. I think that if you persistent then success will come when you are ready. Although I still wouldn’t say no to winning the lottery πŸ˜€

  7. I do agree the long road is better. Now I have hear of old people winning a lottery and they do fine. The reason for this is the learning and wisdom that they gain through the year of experience.

    The long road is much better, you appreciate what you have built. Your self confidence soars, because of your hard work.

    At my age I would go for the winning lottery ticket, but I guess you have to buy one first. I knew I was always forgetting something. LOL

    The key to life is to always keep learning and trying and do what you love.
    Thank you very much for showing different side to riches.


  8. Process vs outcome. Sometimes, we tend to focus more on the outcome that we simply forget to enjoy the process. Great writing.

  9. I can put it this way:

    The difference between successful people and the rest is that succesful people where not scared of failure…
    You learn by making mistakes, and after you fall you get back up!

  10. Some people may not have to take the long road if they’ve done a lot of work on themselves from the inside out. They could be centered and know who they really are. Others, may benefit from taking the long, winding road because they have more to learn. To each their own…

  11. Road #2 maybe long but worth it!

  12. I agree that the long road has its advantages. But what about the person who had a desire to win the lottery. They regularly used their imagination and visualized winning,and they acutally win.

    Becoming a successful entrepreneur is a matter of your state of mind. It’s all a matter of choice to do whatever it takes to find your joy, which is a crucial element, and keeping yourself in it no matter what.

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