I learned the truth of Beverly Sills quote while I was doing the Ropes Course at the US National White Water Center in Charlotte, NC. While on the course I attempted to follow my daughter through the advanced path on this course. I wasn’t planning on doing the advanced course but I was doing well and she said there is only 3 more stages. I got on the advanced course and although challenging, I was progressing. Then I got to the most challenging last section of the course and I was tired. This part required us to walk over swinging wood boards.
Swinging boards on rope course
As I got to about the middle, I selfishly thought, I need a break. I then thought it might be easier to take a shortcut by sitting on the boards and scooting over the boards to the finish.
My attempted shortcut caused me to get my cord tangled and required me to do several extra boards to be able to complete the course. The shortcut I thought I was taking was really a long cut.
This was an analogy to life. Evidence from research indicates that shortcuts supposedly designed to create a better life may produce short term gains but most times result in poor long-term outcomes. Many, such as Martin Seligman, PhD, in his book Authentic Happiness, attribute our desire for shortcuts to a better life to be related to the increases in depression.
As Dr. Seligman demonstrates, happiness, progress and success must be earned. Rewards cannot be given to us. If they are given to us, what is being rewarded? Value generally becomes associated with price. The cost in life is not money but time, effort and diligence. Paying with personal effort enables us to purchase a better life, a valuable commodity.
Life often teaches us that what appears to are shortcuts are not faster or more efficient. Vital to this approach is perspective. It is not that life has to be hard, it is the best and most rewarding way. It is not the required path, but choosing to do things better can be rewarding.
Today I learned that the interaction which appeared to be the long cut because it required me to work harder to exceed expectations and finish the ropes course, was actually the shortcut. Using this harder path was the only path that could allow me to earn a glowing sense of accomplishment. As it turns out, the harder path was the fastest way and it was worth the effort.
In life I choose to make the effort needed to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.Please share the benefits you experience by making an extra effort to exceed expectations.
P.S. If you are interested, John Rosemond’s linked 12/7/2020 column. This column provides a long cut that is really a shortcut for parenting:
Please share your thoughts and questions below.