No shortcuts to success and satisfaction


(ffw to 3:40)

“People ask: where do I get good ideas? The answer is simple: because I get a lot of bad ideas. I have more bad ideas than anyone in this room.” (Seth Godin speaking @ Flanders DC’s event in Antwerp on April 1st 2010)

Can you take shortcuts to success? Can you outsmart life?
What if the clue to your success is just that you have to walk the walk which is called your life? What if it is all about slowing down?
What if valuing every little step you take will make you reach your goals faster?

I believe it will. And here is why.

Prodigeezzz, I don’t think so.

Whatever I do, I look for recognition by others. I assume I have to excell in order to deserve that recognition. So excellence is what I strive for. With every new venture I seek great examples, I read a lot and get to understand their mindset, their tips and tricks, secretly hoping to uncover a way to shortcut the learning curve and release some kind of prodigenious potential.

Unless you can come up with any evidence against this, I have to admit this has not worked for me at all. Never ever have I achieved the excellence I was looking for, in the way I was hoping for. Sure, I learned a lot, but soon after the powerful upstart of my learning curve I came to what I thought was a standstill. Progress slacked, I failed badly or saw others performing better than I did with what seemed to be less effort and more talent. In short: I refused to let others help me, I quit, or worse, dugg deeper into my books and tried to outsmart the tallented and gifted and ignored the fact that these people worked hard, showed passion and courage to get out there, do their thing and learn along the way.

Always assume a good reason

This strategy has left me with little satisfaction about my current achievements. On top of that my hunger for recognition by others became worse. I became what I call a compliments and affirmation stalker. As happens with stalkers they get everything but positive attention from the person they harras. Instead, they get restrained orders, which in a way, may even make their targets more attractive. Did I get restrained orders? I did. Friends and colleagues turned away because they felt suffocated or became insecure. Or they sent me off with false compliments just to get rid of me.

I am glad they did.

Who’s in charge of the pace and the path?

In some way or another I had never seen this before, and like so many insights the truth was there all the time, right in front of my eyes. Just like my friends, colleagues, family and teachers were making their own way through life, doing what they did, I had to make mine and learn to appreciate every step of the journey instead of fieverishly looking for opportunities to leap over some of them. I confused knowledge with experience and truly believed that through knowledge I could skip some crucial experiences, like failure and building resilience.

In fact I am quite sure that this belief rather slows you down or even keeps you from using your full potential. In trying to be superman I avoided what was actually necessary to reach my goals. Maybe that is partially due to the way I was raised and schooled: you have to be as efficient as possible, avoid mistakes, outsmart the competition, and so on. Who knows.

From moonwalking to earthwalking

The idea that you can shortcut life nonetheless remains absurd. The more you try being superman, the more you keep yourself from being superbly human, from uncovering what is already there, waiting for you to pay the right kind of attention to it, to expose it to life and allow it to reach its full potential in responding to and adapting to all life’s challenges. Your life’s challenges.

Will I be able to walk this talk? I don’t know. I will try to appreciate every step of the way, be at least pleased with one or two things I do every single day. Maybe just be grateful for every next breath, proving that I made it, again, and again, and again.

Seth says …

Yesterday I heard Seth Godin talk about how the key to his success was that he had had more bad ideas than anyone else in the audience. I have heard him say this several times before. But I think I have never quite understood this like I am doing now. You?

More on Seth Godin (blog)

More on Flanders DC

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