Daily Stretch #18: take the wiser road, not the shortcut.


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

The gap between success and happiness is widening.

The amount of Google searches of “success” has been growing at a faster pace than of “happiness” in the past four years.

We all want to succeed. But most people crave for shortcuts.

Our appetite for success recipes is reaching a new record. Google “how to succeed” and you’ll get over 86 Million results.

You are reading this because you too are hungry for lessons and stories that can help you succeed.

But if you are looking for a listicle with seven ways to succeed in life, sorry to disappoint you. There’s no quick route to success.

That’s the problem with shortcuts. Trying to achieve your dreams or goals fast, never works.

Shortcuts will get you nowhere. Rather than moving fast, you’ll get stuck.

Shortcuts are an illusion

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” — Helen Keller

Your desire for shortcuts makes you an easy prey.

Miracle workers will promise you quick solutions. Seduced by a freemium offer, you end upgrading to receive anything but sound advice. The only quick-win will be theirs.

The road to success is full of temptations.

Cutting corners will only get you off track. These detours can be ethical, emotional, financial or even moral.

When you are willing to win at all cost, shortcuts are anything but cheap. The time or effort you save could turn into an expensive choice.

What’s the point of being successful if you can’t look yourself in the mirror?

The lies you tell yourself will come back to haunt you.

The learning is in the journey

“But shortcuts are dangerous; we cannot delude ourselves that our knowledge is further along than it actually is.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Our society worships speed.

Fast has become the new imperative.

“How fast can you make it happen?”— I get asked a lot. Deadlines have become more important than the deliverable itself. But it shouldn’t be.

Shortcuts make us ignorant.

Getting from A to Z is not the point. Focusing only on getting to Z (success) can be as damaging as being stuck in A.

The experience between A and Z is what matters. There’s nothing wrong with traveling fast, but don’t let speed overshadow discovery.

What have you learned? Which beliefs did you challenge? How many different solutions have you discovered?

The journey is a learning experience.

Build your foundation first

“No shortcuts. None. It’s tough to build healthy habits. But the reward is priceless.” — Gymaholic

Designing your life is like building a house.

You can always change a window or the color of your room. But if you don’t build a strong foundation, the house will collapse.

I’ve crossed many people taking shortcuts to get promoted and accelerate their career paths. Most of them got stuck in the middle.

It wasn’t just their lack of skills and abilities that got them stuck. But, most importantly, taking shortcuts played against building resilience.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems.” — Gever Tulley

The route to success is not linear. The ability to recover and bounce back separates successful people from those who succeed once or twice.

Building a strong foundation requires time and effort. The unexpected and other inclemencies will test your ability to adapt and bounce back. Train your resilience.

Develop a routine. Build habits that will boost your resilience for when you are defeated.

Laziness drives to wrong decisions

“The brain is fundamentally a lazy piece of meat” — Gregory Bern, professor of neuroeconomics

Our brain likes to win. That’s why it takes shortcuts: to minimize risks.

Taking shortcuts requires no mental effort thus triggering irrational decision-making, as demonstrated by a study conducted at Duke University.

Participants were asked to play a simple economy game with $20 in house money. In the first scenario, they had to choose between “winning” for sure half of the house money or flip a coin to win or lose all. Most participants preferred a sure win of $10.

The second scenario was exactly the same but the proposal was reframed. Instead of “winning for sure half of the $20”, they were told, “losing half of the $20 for sure”.

Winning 50% or losing 50% for sure guaranteed a $10 win in both scenarios.

But in the second one, the word “lose” deceived participants who opted for the irrational path of flipping the coin.

Shortcuts promote brain laziness.

Challenge yourself. Don’t make a quick choice.

Today’s daily stretch: take the wiser road

“There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard, and try to put yourself in a position where if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it.” — Mark Cuban

Easy. Fast. Scientifically proven.

The “how to become successful” articles are full of adjectives. But when you get past the headline, all you get are empty words.

Sorry, there’s no magic formula for success. If not, everybody will be using it.

Stop looking for shortcuts. Invest time and energy in preparing yourself. Reflect on your behaviors.

How do you deal with shortcuts?

How can you strengthen your foundation?

What can you start doing now? What long-term habits should you develop? Which ones should you get rid of?

Work hard. Commit to being the best you can be, not just to being successful.

Show up. Achievement is not a goal but a reward for your effort.

Experiment. Doing is the best way to get better at something. Practice.

Stretch. Change happens one new behavior at a time.

Today’s daily stretch: take the wiser road, not the shortcut.

Before You Go

Change happens one stretch at a time. Don’t take the shortcuts. Invest in improving your change fitness:


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