When ascending towards greatness, be it a mountain summit out in the wild, an enduring place in the charts, a growing readership, a steady place atop a sport or profession, the long way is faster, in the long run.
Surely, you will find counter-examples – people who took short-cuts and found success. Media love those, so you will hear about them a lot. But take a closer look, and you will notice that not only these people are few and far between, despite the inordinate amount of attention they get, but even fewer are still at the top 10 years later.
It just does not happen that way. A climber may reach a summit; a singer get a one-hit wonder; a writer deliver one best-seller; an athlete win a race; a professional may have one great moment. But the second summit, the second hit or best-seller, the second gold or promotion… and then the next, is what separates the wishful many from the truly great, the awesome few.
To repeatedly produce results worthy of awe, one needs to have found something permanent in their soul, a drive that keeps going. The climber may have connected with the rock; the singer may have found his voice; the writer his style; the athlete a technique; the professional his calling. But to go beyond that, they will have acquired a discipline most of us are simply not showing.
Media have emphasized genius to a degree that is unhealthy – to us as a society, and us as individuals. Movies show heroes acquiring skills instantly. Newspapers laud idols-of-the-day. Internet memes epitomize the instant. What we miss is that there is a reason to this focus on the instant. Media sell us instant success, because we want to see it, believe in it. Instant success is pleasant to us, because if instant success is possible, then we are always an instant away from success, no matter our choices, habits, and character.
Life is not like that though, when you steer away from the media frenzy.
The media seek one-time success like the youth seek a one-night stand.
But what do you seek?
If it is true, enduring success, then you must know it is like true, enduring love.
It takes time. Patience. Dedication. Work. Discipline. Integrity.
Openness. Acceptance. Humility. And an indestructible drive.
Even with all that, your only guaranteed result is character.
So what do you choose?
Choosing the long way means letting go of immediate glory for enduring success.
Choosing the long way means focusing on inner strength over worldly outcomes.
But have faith. Work on yourself. The long way is faster, in the long run.