That 2018 novella had us soaring on plywood along young white oak The taste of late July and wind-caressed auricles reminded us of Present’s givings In that quiet of still heat and insect chirping…


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Is Faster Better?

Unleashing your little-known superpower

This article outlines a simple but powerful strategy for getting ahead in your career and life but, first a short story about Jack.

Jack is a young 29-year old living in a big house with a medium-sized square garden. One April morning, he planted some seeds in his garden. He checked six hours later.


Puzzled, he dug up the seeds and replanted them. He checked again six hours later.

Still nothing.

Two weeks later, Jack is utterly dismayed that he has no oak trees in his garden. He calls oak trees a scam.

We are intelligent folks. We know real success is not a quick fix. We know the full story of the “overnight success” guy magazine front cover. We know how long his overnight lasted: 11 years. We know the success we desire will require several days even years of painstaking effort and hard work. We know, as Darren Hardy puts it, “we can’t own success, we can only rent it.” And the rent? We must pay every single day.

But like Jack, we often fall for the promise of the quick fix. We allow many a quick-fix peddlers part us and our hard-earned money, all the while selling us magic pills and silver bullets that frankly don’t work.

This is also despite the constant reminder from successful people that we look up to telling us that the success we crave in our careers, finance, art, relationships, etc will take years. Of hard work. Of showing up every day. When we feel like it. When we don’t. Of committing to the process. Of taking baby steps. Of falling on our face. Of rising on our feet. Of — you guessed it — falling on our face again. Of small wins, big wins, of soaking up the heavy blows, but never leaving the ring.

But we ask, “do I really have to go through all that?” Is there really no shortcut to be an amazing writer? Do I really need to “read a lot and write a lot”? Do I really need to write every day? Actually finish something? click publish and hand myself over to the cruel, unsparing, judgement of others? Do I have to keep improving regardless of cruel or kind, helpful or critical feedback?

Is that what it takes to succeed? Does it have to be hard? Does it have to be long?

We question the process.

Success is a process, a mindset and things take time. Warren Buffett, founder and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the most successful investor of all time, pointed out:

“You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. It just doesn’t work that way.”

But we want what we want without paying the price. We want what we want instantly, otherwise called instant gratification.

We want to be the amazing programmer, the celebrated musician, the famed writer, the world-renowned artist, etc, without the effort. Without the price.

We hunt for the next “hack”. We can’t wait. And it’s getting worse. Modern life and its extraordinary advancements — in science, in technology etc — is teaching us a lesson: that we can get whatever we want whenever we want it. Waiting is so so nineteen hundreds.

Not that any of these is wrong or that we would even want it any other way. Moreover, most of the faster solutions is just technology cutting out the slack, the excess fat, the inefficiencies. Many improvements are just that we are now doing things faster because we used to do them too slowly.

And quite frankly, we would not be human if we do not want the silver bullet, the magic pill — the hacks. But one thing we can do as a countermeasure is to always remind ourselves that things take time. That for most accomplishment worth having, there is no way around slow, excruciating periods of growth. That qualities such as endurance, grit, patience, and persistence are a rare soup of superpowers, and now even more so.

Most of the advice we think we need can be summarized as: find out how long things typically take and be willing to stay the course. Search out the overnight successes in your area of interest or goals, then find out how long the average night is. Then be willing to work for that long. Simple, isn’t it.

And don’t be surprised when you discover it will take you at least 5 years of consistent effort to get so good. Even 10. Yes, most thing take that long. The outstanding programmer, communicator, programmer, artist you see and admire was that long in the making. A way to look at results is to see it as sitting on a spectrum. At one end in the short term, you have very small, insignificant achievement — precious little — to show for efforts, and at the other end sits the big significant achievement. It’s surely not the only one, but time is the key ingredient to move from one end to the other. Then, it’s obvious to see, that if you show up every day and stick to the process for long enough you can move from insignificant or no result at all, to celebrated world-class accomplishment.

However, this realization is in direct conflict with our 21st century tendencies: Our need for instant gratification is fired up more than ever, our desire for quick fixes have never been more stoked. Our thirst for fleeting pleasures is making sure we never commit to anything for a significant length of time. Short attention span in young and old alike, and our plague-like avoidance of the boring.

Therefore, the willingness to wait longer, to stick to it for longer has become a competitive advantage. Those who can overcome the urge for quick fixes, showing unyielding devotion to their craft are well placed to reap the big rewards.

We go around looking for the “hacks” in our hunt for quick fixes, without realizing that the ability to stay the course, daily application of the simple and the boring, and showing up every day might be the greatest hack.

I’ve found that the great hacks are quite easy to spot: they are simple, but not by any means easy. And that’s why we reject them and go, instead, for the complicated quick fixes that we believe will help us short-circuit the process.

Take for instance,

Skill builders hunt for skill-building hacks without realizing the best of them all might be: practice until it hurts. Then practice some more.

Product makers hunt for product hacks without realizing the best of them all might be: make a product that meet a genuine need in the best way possible.

You may have already noticed that even though these “hacks” are simple — even obvious — they are not easiest things to do. And that’s the point. They’ll almost certainly work but they demand huge commitment, time, patience, endurance, and high levels of effort — more than most are willing to give. Deep down we like the shortcuts instead but it’s like building a house of cards. It can be put together pretty quickly with less effort than the brick-built house, but it’s a matter of time before it comes crashing down.

Did you chuckle a little reading about Jack in the introductory story? That’s OK but the truth is we all have the same tendencies for instant gratification in a fast-paced world. And if we do not take caution, then our appetite for results so big and so fast, will mean we never get to the oak tree. Which is kind of sad.

However, it is our individual ability to do what other can’t do, or won’t do. To stay the longest. To go the farthest that puts the odds of success in our favour.

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