This blog is going to cover a much broader topic than the title might elude to, and no it is not about dietary supplementation.
There are no short cuts in life, period. Yes, you can shorten your learning curve by going to school or seeking counsel of an accomplished person in that discipline, but you cannot jump the line. You HAVE to do the work and build the foundation to set yourself up for success. You have to have the skills required for the higher levels of what you pursue, otherwise you will be exposed.
The reason the things in the picture that so many people take are called supplements should be self-evident. They are meant to be part of an overall balanced diet and lifestyle, not the sole thing that keeps you alive. In fact, the supplements cannot overcome a bad diet, lack of exercise or good sleep on a nightly basis. You need to do the work, to be firing on all cylinders to get optimal results. You can’t take the short cut and swallow a handful of pills thinking this will cancel out all the things you do not do, or the things you do that are counter-productive. While taking three ibuprofen might make your hangover feel better, they do not counteract the things all that alcohol did to your body: headache, fatigue, dehydration and more. The ibuprofen are a band aid at best, and unfortunately a crutch if used too often. I am not telling you not to go have fun once in a while, but if you are eating a handful of ibuprofen each week to function the day after yet another binge, you are not on the right track.
Do you know someone who has struggled with being overweight for a long time? They know they are not living a healthy lifestyle as well as you do, and yet they seem to struggle making changes nonetheless. Some even go so far as to get a surgical procedure done to assist; they lose a bunch of weight and look and feel better, only to gain it back despite all the progress they made. Why? Well, that is one of those things that is easy to say but not easy to do. They didn’t change their behaviors in relation to diet and lifestyle. They wanted to take the short cut, they wanted to have someone else do the work for them. In this case, they paid a doctor to solve their problem for them. They weren’t willing to do the workthemselves. Yes, I understand that I am generalizing and that there are people who cannot do it on their own for a medical reason or something else that is out of their realm of control. But MOST do not have a real reason like this, they are avoiding the work or they have never been taught how to work in this fashion. On the other end of the spectrum, steroids are the same kind of short cut. Instead of working long and hard and doing everything right to achieve a physique others envy, people cheat and use a harmful shortcut that will not last.
Think of how much better off the individuals and we as a society would be if we approached the health related topics above in a more effective manner. Each of us would experience the wonderful feeling of being healthy and energetic. We would do more, see more, experience more in life. We would be happier overall, and we would likely be nicer to others as well. All of these things go hand in hand, but this is true on the opposite side of the spectrum. If you are unhealthy, every day is a struggle and everything you do is a burden. If things get bad enough, walking from the couch to the bathroom is a struggle. While that is an extreme example, there are enough occurrences of this that more than one TV show has been made around people living this way.
As another example in a different realm, I played in a racquetball tournament against a guy who exploded on the scene after only playing a year. He had an amazing offensive serve; it was literally a Pro level serve in terms of speed and accuracy, as he had spent all of his time focused on this one piece of his game. As soon as I got him into a rally and made him hit anything other than a serve, he was mediocre at best. He was not polished in any area but the serve, and this weakness was quickly exploited. All I had to do was “survive” the serve and I was in business. I won a close first game after figuring this out. Once he knew I discovered this, it was all down hill from there. He put more pressure on himself to hit better serves in order to avoid a rally, and this led to more service errors. Soon he was so frustrated with himself he couldn’t even serve well. He had no other gear, nothing else to fall back on to try and win. He folded quickly, and I won game two easily and the match in under forty-five minutes.
Here is the point, there is no easy way to get what you want, there is no shortcut. If you stole someone’s Masters Degree certificate and forged your name onto it, you do not have a Masters Degree. You are a fraud; you know it, and before long others will to. You don’t have the knowledge base that was EARNED in the process to that designation, so the paper itself is useless. Buying a black belt to wear around without the years of discipline and practice of that martial art will only do one thing for you, and that is get your ass kicked. If you want anything of value in life, you have to earn it. You have to put in the work.
I saw an add for both dance instructors for the Fred Astaire Dance Academy and a Karate studio that both read the same way: NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED. There is not a chance I am going to study under someone who has “taken a pill” in their approach to learning a skill. I am not going to get anything but the most rudimentary basics from someone like that, and I have no interest in learning only the surface layer of a new skill. I want to the depth of knowledge that a long time practitioner brings to the table.
I know as a coach that I share things with people under the guise of a racquetball lesson or in sales that applies to many other facets of their life. The only way I am able to to this is to have a lifetime of practice and experience in the disciplines I have pursued. Once you uncover the building blocks of success through long hours and hard work, you can apply them to any kind of pursuit. There is no other way to put yourself in this position; you have to do the work. This is makes the reward of accomplishing things so worthwhile, you have put in the miles to arrive. You studied and honed your craft to the point of being better than others at this skill set. You tried and failed and tried again. You didn’t quit and you persevered. You EARNED your victory. This is why people respect winners, intrinsically they have some idea of just how much work it took to get to the top of the podium, even if they have never done it themselves.
I believe we all know, deep down inside, that there are no short cuts in life. I love a good life hack just as much as the next person, but I know that some things you cannot cut the line for. I am not going to take one class of jiujitsu and sing up for a tournament because I was a medal. It doesn’t work that way. You don’t get a six figure job without doing the work of graduating with at least a Bachelor’s degree or starting your own business. If you play sports and are good enough to turn Pro, you have logged the hard miles to earn that big contract; if you didn’t, you will be exposed along the way and will crash and burn.
You have to be willing to do the work. If you don’t, you will miss all the lessons and experiences along the way that validate that degree or that medal. You will lose the value of the journey; the destination may be the goal but the journey you take along the way is what really matters. I am speaking from experience on this, and hope you can follow the path as I did and get as much out of it as I have. I am a better person because I didn’t take the pill. I got there when I got there, and arriving any sooner would have had me unprepared for what happened next.
Be patient, and step by step walk the thousand mile road…