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Looking For Shortcuts To Success? You Need To Read This.

Looking For Shortcuts To Success? You Need To Read This.

Have you ever known someone who seemed to have everything come to them easily?

Maybe they were born into wealth with a super-star face. Athletic. Charming. With just the raise of an eyebrow and a flash of perfect teeth, it all falls in their lap.

Meanwhile, you battle like a Lord of the Rings montage for every scrap of progress in your life.

Nothing is handed to you. Oh, no. In fact, it sometimes feels like the universe takes a thrill in creating obstacles so you have to go the long way around.

You would give anything for a break. Winning lottery ticket? Fortune from the death of a long-lost relative? Genie lamp?

Yes, please!

Shortcuts do exist, and some people hit the jackpot.

So why do I suggest they don’t? I’ll give you seven reasons why shortcuts to success do not exist. Then you decide for yourself.

1. The Ski Lift Reason

There is a difference between feeling successful and reaching a benchmark that appears to mark success.

I have climbed mountains, and I have ridden ski lifts. There is a distinctly different feeling when I reach the peak.

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The thrill of reaching the peak of a mountain on your own two feet, sweat streaming, heart racing, lungs burning—it’s surreal. Looking down on all around you, you know you earned that view. You battled for it. You could have stopped and turned around at any point, but you hung in there. The journey changed something inside of you. You know now that you are capable of so much more. “If I can do that, what else can I do?”

The only thing I know I can do after ridding a ski lift is that I can sit in a chair. Sure, it’s fun. I still get to see the lovely scenery. But beside the dismount, I feel no accomplishment. I didn’t overcome anything. Reaching the peak is not a success when I arrive on a ski lift.

Same mountain peak. Completely different feeling.

Success is a feeling, not an event. You might be able to take shortcuts to the benchmark, but the shortcut diminishes the feeling.

2. The Butterfly Reason

Shortcuts reduce your strength to create more success.

There was a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. A child watching the struggle decided to help the butterfly. He cut open the cocoon so the butterfly was free. He then watched as the butterfly flapped about.

The child’s grandmother came along and asked what happened.  When the child proudly told her how he helped, the grandmother nodded and then sighed.  She pulled the boy into her lap and said, “Butterflies need to struggle. When they squeeze out of their cocoons, it pushes fluid into their wings for the first time. This makes their wings strong. Your butterfly didn’t struggle so it will never be able to fly.”

When we are in the middle of our struggles, we wish someone would come along and cut us out of our cocoons. The struggling, though, does the same thing for us as it does to the butterfly. It makes us stronger.

Success that comes from struggle generates strength that serves you throughout your life.

3. Dumbo’s Reason

When “success” happens by fluke or shortcut, you never learn how to re-create it.

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In Dumbo, Timothy tells Dumbo that he can fly because he has a magic feather. When Dumbo loses the feather, he is paralyzed.  He doesn’t how to fly without the shortcut.

Our brains are constantly looking for patterns. When we know we are working hard and making progress, we will continue to repeat these patterns.

When shortcuts are responsible for our seeming success, we have no idea how to repeat those patterns again. It actually degrades our confidence and our strength. Then, when larger challenges come along, we panic. If all you have is a magic feather, you have nothing substantial to rely on when you really need it.

Success that comes from hard work, though, arms you with knowledge and strategies to take on bigger challenges and fly even higher.

4. The Impostor Reason

When you arrive at the peak on a ski lift to find a group of people who hiked to the top, you have a hard time connecting with them.  They’re swapping stories and patting each other on the back.  “Yeah, and what about that huge log over the trail with the bees nest right next to it! That was crazy! How did you get around it?”

And you’ve got nothing to share. What are you going to say?

People who arrive at success by their own hard work and ingenuity have earned their sense of pride.

Eventually, if you arrive at success by shortcuts, it will be harder and harder to hang. You won’t have the stories, strategies and strength that will make you an insider.

You will feel like an impostor.

You won’t stay on the top of the mountain for long.

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5. Odysseus’s Reason

The road to real success is paved by failure.

Remember good ol’ Odysseus from high school English. Oh, The Odyssey, that long, long Greek poem. It is epic, literally.

This dude is trying sail home after a fighting in The Trojan War for 10 years. The journey back home leads him on a roller coaster ride from failure to success and back again. It takes another 10 years, but he finally reaches home again.

So, what’s Homer’s point?

Success is not one moment or one achievement. It is a series of struggles, fought again and again, that change who we are. The lessons learned on the journey are far more valuable than arriving at the desired destination. Take a shortcut to the destination and you miss everything you could have learned.

6. The Habitual Reason

Successful people develop habits based on what they learned from past failures. They develop their own systems that consistently work for them.

These habits become so normal that they don’t even think about it.

Like Odysseus, the long struggles are an incubation process that builds a success machine.

The mantras & sayings, vocal qualities, posture, ways of waking, creating, questioning, organizing, networking: these are learned from repetition.

Shortcuts miss all the practice that make your success habits second-nature.

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7. Michael J. Fox’s Reason

Ever see The Secret of My Success? It’s a classic 80s movie starring Michael J. as a young business man who finds a shortcut to success. But what’s his secret? Sneaking, lying, covering tracks, and general slapstick shenanigans. Spoiler alert: in the end, it all falls apart. Our boy learns that all the trappings of success mean nothing without honesty and love. Awww, shucks.

One reason Michael J. Fox’s real life story has touched so many people is what he teaches about success.

This guy had it all. Every outward signifier of success flowing as far as the eye could see. Then at age 30, he developed the symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s disease. A symbol of youth has the disease of the “old.”

How does he respond?

He realizes that he needs to become a new symbol.  No longer is he the “shortcut taker.” He becomes the role model of the long-haul.

There are no shortcuts to success in a marathon. Every step is a struggle. Every success is earned and every failure is a lesson for doing better next time.

Real success in life comes from knowing who you are, having confidence that you can face our fears, and stepping up to the plate courageously with love and integrity.

There are no shortcuts in these moments of truth.

So what do you think? Will you decide to take shortcuts? In the end, it is not so much whether shortcuts exist or not. It’s what you want to feel when you reach the peaks and when you put your head on the pillow each night.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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