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The easy way out

Time for a hard truth:

People are lazy.

Not just you and your no-good mates, but humans in general are lazy. It’s an evolutionary thing; basically it comes down to energy, any extra energy we expend means more food we have to find to maintain our existence.

While this doesn’t seem like a big problem to the modern civilised person, if you go back in time a few hundred thousand years to where we don’t have a virtually unlimited supply of calories at our fingertips, you might be a little more conservative with your energy expenditure, but I digress…

This is one possible theory for our inherent laziness, and while this trait has certainly been responsible for almost every significant invention in history, it is also something that can hold us back from achieving our potential.

People are drawn to the path of least resistance and often will look for a shortcut, especially in this modern age of instant gratification, there is often an option people can take to reduce the time or effort required to achieve something, while this can be considered a step forward when it comes to simplifying mundane or time consuming tasks, people also have this attitude towards personal development, and this is a mistake.

The act of shortcutting a personal goal takes away from some of the most important aspects of the achievement.

Anything of worth that is achieved, whether it is a new personal best sporting performance, a project that you have been working on, or that new promotion you have been shooting for, requires the following:

  • Time

  • Energy

  • Commitment

  • Persistence

  • Dedication

When a person uses a shortcut to reduce the required amount of one of these factors, often times the goal is never reached, and if one does reach the goal, the achievement is cheapened. This means not only is the satisfaction not as great for having reached the goal, but the most important aspects of the journey, the things you are required to learn, are compromised.

Let’s use an example; let’s take two twins, Bob and Bill, exactly the same in every way (i know, creepy), and give them a task.

They are instructed to build a cabin in the woods, they are both instructed to use any resources they have available to them, and are given an unlimited amount of time to complete the job.

Bob gets to work straight away, understanding that the task set for him is enormous for one man to accomplish alone.

He first sets about flattening the ground on the site that the cabin will be built upon, the ground is full of rocks and stumps so he must first dig them out and fill the holes, next he must dig deep holes for the foundation pillars to be set in.

He then takes an axe and a saw out to the woods and chops down a few trees, cuts them to size, hauls the lumber back to the building site, nails his frames and trusses together and begins to assemble the timber piece by piece.

Now that the frame is up he goes about securing the walls and laying the floorboards, attaching the doors and applying the finishing touches.

The whole process has taken him 3 months, and he has put in a massive amount of time and effort, he stands back and admires his work, but his feelings are quickly dampened when he goes to his twin brother’s cabin.

Bill's cabin, which was complete after 2 weeks, now has a beautiful garden growing, a nice verandah with some furniture, and is decked out inside with all the comforts of home.

Leaving feeling dejected, Bob goes back to his barebones cabin and sits in his only chair looking at the wall and thinks to himself: “How did he do it? Not only did he build it faster, but it looks more impressive and has many more features!” He sits here night after night and wonders this same question.

A couple of months go past and Bob has now turned his barebones cabin into a definitely more impressive abode, the wood is all oiled and weatherproofed, he now has a lot more furniture, which he painstakingly handcrafted, he has a deck of his own now, and after a few failed attempts, a garden and veggie patch.

He knows it will pain him to see now how much further his brother’s cabin has come, but he must know. He arrives at the clearing expecting to see a skyscraper and instead finds a dilapidated shack with most of the roof fallen in. All the plants are dead, and on what remains of the collapsed deck staring into the woods, sits his brother.

With total surprise Bob asks;

"What happened? Last time I saw your cabin it was amazing! I was expecting 4 levels by now!”

“Have a seat” he said “and I’ll tell you all about it”

Bob sits next to his brother on the wooden remains and listens intently.

“The first thing I did was call a lumber supplier and hire an excavator, I had some wood cut, sized, and delivered, and had my foundations dug and positioned before you had your first tree cut down.”

Bob was shocked, he had never even thought of getting someone else to do the work.

“Next I glued the frames and trusses together and started assembling, I put a big piece of board down for the floor and walls, ordered some furniture from china, and started building the deck”

Bob was starting to piece everything together in his mind. His brother continued

“The deck didn’t take too long because I used glue on that too, and I hired a gardener to come out and put all the plants in, so I could spend time on the interior”

At this point it all became clear.

Bill's goal had never been to create a cabin that would culminate and stand the test of time, it was to get it done as fast as possible with the least amount of effort.

The foundations were weak because he had used the excavator and made the holes too wide, the wood was of a poor quality because it was cheap to buy and quick and easy to transport. The frames were falling apart because the glue, while quick and easy to apply couldn’t stand the test of time in the wilderness.

Nothing was oiled or weather-proofed as this was considered wasted time, the floor piece was warped and cracking because of uneven loading, and the poor-quality mass-produced furniture was falling apart too.

The deck was sitting on soft foundations and eventually began to deteriorate; the garden was all installed by an expert and, with no horticultural knowledge Bill eventually let everything die.

He began to speak again after a long silence

“I just wanted to get it finished as soon as I could…”

The problem is that with anything that you do, there is always more to it than just the doing. There is growth and learning to be had at every turn, the fact that Bob had to endure hardships, persevere with seemingly impossible tasks, commit to finishing the job and dedicate his time and energy completely to the project, means that he has gained much more out of this than just a cabin. All of the seemingly annoying/difficult/arduous/time-consuming things that he had to do in order to build his cabin carry with them a lot more than just the task itself.

All these lessons carry on and serve you in all the other areas of your life, the traits that are developed when overcoming adversity are too numerous to mention, and their importance in your success cannot be overstated.

So do yourself a favour and don’t take the easy way out, hard work pays off, one way or another.

Until next time…


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