Shortcuts In A Long Race

There are no shortcuts. There are merely different paths. Some are just more direct than others.

Stuck in traffic, slowed by a flat tire or derailed by bad parts… most of us, just run out of gas and have bought into faulty directions.

There are no shortcuts on the long, slow walk to greatness.

The Microwave Mentality

At the risk of sounding old, I’ll put it out there, today’s flash-in-the-pan-reality-tv-quick-fix-fast-food — ahem, microwave — “ready in 2-minutes” mentality is sludge that is getting put into most athlete’s – and coaches’ – gas tank.

Many buy into shortcuts because the daunting reality of how long the race is. Even the most direct path is far from a straight, smooth ride. It then becomes easy to steer clear of the very thing that frightens us most: what it really takes. Avoidance and procrastination take on many forms, and one of them looks like a shortcut .

Those who are dishing out faulty directions, are selling you on the notion that they’ve done the work for you; frozen it and packaged it neatly. All we have to do is push reheat (…!).

They’re preying on our inner laziness and the nagging urge within us all, that says: “I just want this to be easier!”

Shortcuts Are Merely Bad Directions

Have you ever been given bad directions yet still made your way to your final destination? I have. Took me a bit longer and I spent more on gas, but I got there in the end.

Faulty directions can be found on every street corner: the newest fad workout program, the ‘earn $10,000 a week working from home’ scheme, the ‘take this course/certification and get your dream job in just 1-year pitch’ etc… etc.

In the basketball world, there are just as many faulty directions. We’ve all seen it…

  • It’s the basketball DVD or website with the words Unstoppable, Unguardable, Guaranteed, or [insert any choice loaded term] emblazoned across the cover.
  • It’s the skills coach that is a self-appointed “NBA trainer to the pros”.
  • It’s the (self certified) coaching certification program… Okay, you get my point, I trust (…!).

As businessman Steve Parker once wrote on ‘false directions’: “These can take the form of a process, another person or your own worst enemy: yourself.”

Let me paraphrase a thought adapted from Parker…

Faulty directions “lead us down the primrose path.” Faulty directions misguide and persuade you that the long race (i.e. putting in your hours) is more a suggestion than a requirement. Faulty directions tell you to focus on an outcome instead of the process. Faulty directions tell you that long-term athlete development and the science of player development is too expensive of a price to pay, not valuable or too mundane. Faulty directions sell the it-worked-for-me-so-it-will-work-for-you pitch. The pushers of faulty directions want you to believe the goods they’re shucking are better than any others on the market; and, that you should buy exclusively from them.

Faulty directions lie, steal and cheat you from that which you desire most: the direct path.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting all sellers of faulty directions are liars or are stealing from you on purpose. It is very important to understand that faulty directions may, in fact, be quite sincere and coming from a place of service.

The problem is that faulty directions fail you because they actually lead you astray. They’re not necessarily a dead end. You might just need to log more miles along the way before getting to your desired destination.

The Shortcut IS The Road Least Traveled

Success = Perseverance + Hard Work + PatienceThere are many paths all leading to the same end destination . The most direct path is the one that looks least traveled. The one that’s going to require patience and many unheralded moments alone in sweaty solitude, slugging away doing the work.

The biggest challenge is not just the work that needs to take place to achieve any audacious goal, but also how taxing it can be to manage bad directions.

The shortest path is far from a straight drive. More like bumpy roads, construction, a few pit stops due to engine trouble and a small fender bender—and, well, often navigating through faulty directions.

Whichever path you take, make sure you pack resilience, focus, consistency, grit and a lot of relentless optimism for the trip.

As James Clear said, “Enjoy the the long slow walk to greatness. ” I am.