So, I promised you regular installments of the GUTS acrostics. Word games that teach a lesson. And yes, it seems like I am overdue again. Thus, I grant you Merry Christmas in July and the release of another GUTS BEAM – Guts #35 = Give Up The Shortcuts. Consider the following 8 points to see what I mean, by this title.
1. ShortCuts are often dangerous –
I have had an abundance of proof texts in my life to make me aware of this fact.
In my twenties, I used to go on fishing and camping canoe trips. On one of these trips on the New River, I ignored my father’s advice to wait till he could get the boat empty of water, from the rapids to get to me and decided to cross the river in an unsafe place. I fought with every thing I had. I threw away my favorite fishing rod. I kicked off my shoes. I used every ounce of energy in me. I repeatedly yelled for help, as I saw that I was in increasing trouble. I gave it all I had but it was clear that I would not make it to the bank and my father would not make it to me. I thought it strange that I would die, at such a young age and gave up to die. At that very moment, My father miraculously showed up and fished me from the water, when there was no way he could get there and it seemed that I would surely drown. I am glad my father was there. My shortcut almost cost me my life.
I often refer to 1998 as Hell Year. My father died and my wife of 20 years had a traumatic brain injury that destroyed my family’s life, as I knew it then. I will never forget getting the horrific call that my wife had been in an accident, falling sixteen feet head first, in a parking lot. I was told she had smashed her head in a local Publix Supermarket Parking lot. I hoped it was a cruel joke. It wasn’t. Yes, this horrible event was caused by you guessed it; a shortcut.
Yes, I know that nearly every computer game has shortcuts. Secrets that improve your performance and speed in the game and that increase your likelihood of winning. But in this case, the shortcuts are actually just part of what you have to do, to do well. But in real life, shortcuts are not a game and should only be taken, when they are taken for the right reasons.
Excellence is a task of mastery. Steps must be taken precisely, in order and with great finesse to develop great skill. Shortcuts often shortcircuit the path to championship. Great champions will tell you, there is no way around much training and practice to develop the capacity for great accomplishment.
One way, to make sure your shortcuts aren’t actually pitfalls is to ask yourself the question; Is it the right thing? This is the acid test to determine the worth of a course of action.
3. Shortcuts are no good, if they do not lead to high quality.
One of the great foundations of this country that I am concerned is being forgotten is the sign your name to your work mindset.
Early in American history; a strong work ethic was born. People literally used to sign their name to their work. We need this signing our name to our work philosophy today! Maybe you have seen the World War II images of “Rosie, the Riveter” that showed just how important, each individual person was, to the war effort to stop Hitler. Notice those ads didn’t just show a Riveter. They showed: ROSIE, The Riveter. It helped other people see that their efforts were important; when they could relate to her personally.
Each one of us should have our own personal commitment to quality. This ought to be one of the fundamental bedrocks of the high estate of being human. We should each try our best, to be our best each day. This is not rocket-science. Yet, our world would literally be revolutionized overnight; if everyone would follow this simple axiom.
4. Greatness should not be a goal just for the famous and it is never won, only by shortcuts.
My favorite quote was spoken by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910. He said the following and it can not be said better.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “
More than anything I have ever read, this quote demonstrates the life of value is not the path of shortcuts.
5. Shortcuts can be an excuse for laziness and sorriness.
I remember when I wrestled in high school. As I ran till I nearly passed out and worked until I thought I would expire that the coach would invariably say: “No pain, No gain.” – – – Life has borne out the wisdom of these words many times. We should not be mad at society, for the price we didn’t pay. We should not expect more from life than the value of the seeds we have sewn.
6. People of great accomplishment are more often than you realize people of hard work, not shortcuts.
Consider Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. Growing up during the Great Depression. Sam Walton lived a life of hard work. As a boy, he did many chores to help make financial ends meet for his family. He milked the family cow, bottled the surplus, and drove it to customers. Afterwards, Sam would deliver newspapers on a paper route. In addition, he sold magazine subscriptions. His whole life was marked by a hard work ethic. People that thought it unusual that he dressed like a down to earth guy, as one of the most successful men who ever lived came to understand; that was just who he was. A man who worked hard, made smart moves and achieved much, because of his solid values (not shortcuts).
Consider Warren Buffet, who is thought of as the most successful investor of the 20th century. As a boy, he went door to door selling chewing gum. He worked in his grandfather’s grocery store. And one of his first successful business endeavors was buying and selling pinball machines. Today, a Billionaire, He still lives in a normal house; a home he has owned since 1958 and for which he only paid $31,500. He does not plan to give his great wealth to his children. (They must earn their own.) And he intends to give most of his fortune away, to charity. And yes, he still dresses like a down to earth business man. He stands for a hard work and honest quality ethic and yes, you guessed it; he credits his mid-American, Nebraskan values (not shortcuts) for his success.
7. There is often little difference, between looking for a shortcut and and looking for an excuse.
The Old Testament tells the account of how the Prophet Samuel confronted the leader, King David with his own moral failure. To help him see the error of his own ways; Samuel described something terrible that someone else did and then when King David denounced the deed; the Prophet Samuel hit him right between the eyes, with the words: “Thou art the man!”
We can often see the wrong in others that we can not admit about ourselves. Living in the fantasy land that there is a shortcut for our own growth and development; is often really the excuse that we are not willing to pay the price to get there.
I am a Quaker. Historically, Quaker’s stood for a life of simplicity and value. I aspire to do this today. I want NOT to shortcut being a man of conscience and worth.
8. Some things are worth the full price and should not be shortcut..
It seems that people will do anything for a deal. Yet, when presented the opportunity to obtain value and real worth; there is no discount. . Whenever we do something to get what we want without paying the full and fair price for it; we can actually cheapen our soul.
We may get by with it at the time but it leaves mark on us. It defiles our conscience. We don’t really get by with things that aren’t right. We may get the thing we want but lose the peace we need.
I am not saying take the long way on everything we do. There are times, if there is a shorter, quicker way; it is ok; even smart. But there are also times when taking the short way is actually cheating us or someone else. In these occasions a shortcut hurts our internal sense of value. And the temporary benefit it provides is not worth the long term stain it leaves.
For God’s sake. For others sake. For your own sake. G.U.T.S. #35 – Give Up The Shortcuts.