Are There Really Shortcuts In Life To Success?


Wednesday, 9.32pm

Sheffield, U.K.

It worries me that young singers think you can shortcut the training and go straight to fame and fortune, and programmes like Pop Idol have encouraged that – Lesley Garrett

I was listening to Jay Abraham’s podcast for the first time and he said something that is obvious and yet clearly not obvious at the same time.

Most businesses, he said, do exactly what other businesses like them do.

You look around and act in the way other people act.

And that’s not surprising. For years we’ve been taught to conform, to do what we are told, to say at the table until we’re finished and do our homework.

So we end up looking to those around us for confirmation that what we’re doing is right.

You see this in financial markets – most fund managers want to be in the middle of the pack. Not the best, not the worst – not an outlier.

In a Goldilocks band of not too hot and not too cold – just right where there is little chance of being blamed.

So what happens after ten, twenty years of thinking like that?

We naturally assume that the way to do it is the way others do it – the way we see it being done around us.

So we see websites that look identical, messaging that is a variation on a theme, everyone trying to stand out by doing much the same thing as everyone else.

Are there shortcuts? Perhaps you get there swinging like a gymnast, flying from bar to bar to the top in one smooth motion?

Of course, you need to be a gymnast first.

For the rest of us the stairs are the only sensible option.

So this poses a problem – how can you stand out if you play it safe?

That’s the point at which a quick response starts to falter.

Jay, for example, talks about what you could do differently. For an audience of real estate agents, for example, you could stress that your list can be found nowhere else – that you have gems that no one else will see first.

That, of course, requires you to corner a market, something which is not easy to do.

Or you could stand out because of who you become – you could wear orange like Joe Pulizzi, swear like Gary Vaynerchuck or get a job as the CEO of Microsoft.

Maybe the reality is simpler than that.

Your competitors behave in a certain way because that’s how buyers want them to act.

What they show is what the market wants – that’s why it’s there in the first place.

No one wants to hire someone with a completely different point of view.

For example, there are Government guidance documents that are plain wrong. Wrong in a way that can be proved mathematically.

But, can you convince someone with a Government job to do something differently?

The fact is people will do what they feel is the lowest risk option – not the best one, not the most exciting but the one that is safest.

We’re wired to hate risk much much more than we love opportunity.

And that’s why shortcuts don’t work.

We don’t trust them.

We value a track record, a demonstrable history of achievement and improvement.

In most things the key is little and often not a lot every once in a while.

As Longfellow remarked, people don’t get to the top “by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”


Karthik Suresh

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