National holidays are supposed to be times to appreciate our country, our society. The advantages we may have in life – whether or not we choose to use them. To appreciate life – our own and those that came before us, and to keep in mind what we’re doing for those that will come after us.
A funny thing happened this past Memorial Day weekend. I started thinking about one of those things. But I ended up thinking about what we DON’T take advantage of. What we don’t put to use. How so many of us become enamored with finding a ‘shortcut’, a quick fix. And we don’t appreciate the ‘process’.
I think about these things a lot lately. I’ve come to take my position as a teacher and coach seriously. It started as a way to make money doing something that came naturally. And I’ve gradually realized the power and influence a teacher can have – in any capacity. Whether it’s five year olds or business owners. Teachers have influence. And that scared me at first.
WHAT KIND OF INFLUENCE DO I WANT TO HAVE?
I think about when I might be a father, and I constantly evaluate everything I do in terms of how would I explain it to my child.
How would I explain my mistakes and victories? How can I put things in perspective? How can I mold a child to grow up being a better person then I am now?
My child will have his own life, his own personality. I feel like my main responsibility is to put him in a position to succeed. To thrive. To improve the world by teaching my child how to be a better version of myself. How to be stronger, more caring, more productive. How to take initiative. How to help more people.
And this all got me thinking about shortcuts. Being a business owner, the majority of spam email I get has to do with shortcuts. How to grow your business faster. How to do less. How to make a lot of money overnight. ‘Just Buy This System!’
And you have to believe that if these marketing tactics didn’t work, people would stop using them. But there are always shortcuts being marketed. For everything from business building, better health, better bodies, better sexual performance, better this and better that. For one low, low price and overnight results.
And people drink it up. Everyone falls in love with the dream of winning the lottery and having all their worries washed away overnight…
WHAT’S THE OPPOSITE OF A SHORTCUT?
My father and mother grew up in poverty in Egypt. Let me assure you that poverty in a third world country is completely different then poverty in the United States. There’s no dreaming and working your way out of it. There’s no ‘making money doing what you love’. There’s doing what’s available. IF there is anything available. Right now, over there, the average income is $2.00 per day. That’s the average INCOME, for those that work. Not the 30% that are not working.
But my parents still found a way to end up in the U.S. Not speaking the language. Not looking for a lottery ticket. And they worked their butts off. They kept the future in mind, wanting to create a better starting point for their children. Because they didn’t want their kids growing up somewhere with no hope. With a hole in the ground for a toilet.
They worked. My dad and his best friend built successful businesses in New York City – one of the toughest places to get ahead. My father eventually moved his family from a tiny apartment in Queens to a safe, educated, upper middle class neighborhood in New Jersey. In one of the best school systems in the state.
From third world poverty to upper middle class in a 1st world country. That’s advancement that usually takes several generations. They had their long term goal in mind – and clear – and they worked and stayed focused on it all those years. Rarely getting distracted.
THE SECOND TIME IS MUCH EASIER
Reaching success the first time is always the hardest. Because you have to learn all the lessons as you go. You learn that reaching your goal is not what’s important. The process is. And people have heard this many times. But it’s just different when you experience it. When you reach your goal, and you don’t have the feelings you thought you’d have. You celebrate, you’re happy that’s for sure. But it’s a feeling of pride and maturity, as well. Those feelings overwhelmed me in my greatest moments so far. The moment you reach your goal is just that – a moment. It comes and goes and you’re left looking back at it in the rear view mirror.
But the feeling and growth you get from the months and years that led up to it, that stays present within you forever. The day in, day out work. The focus. The failures and rebounds. The faith and amazement that you have, to look back and realize that it was the system that made the difference.
And the confidence in knowing that you can now do it again. I know how to. I know what it takes. And I know a shortcut is a detour, a distraction.
I hope to refocus my coaching to develop an appreciation for the process. For the system I teach business owners. I hope for people to embrace and fall in love with the process and hard work. To enjoy it. Because to go through it is one of life’s greatest rewards and greatest feelings.