No Shortcuts

“He lived a charmed life; a trail of convenient shortcuts defined his rise and incredible success.”

This would be a great opening line to a life story. Perhaps if you are the great Gatsby or Donald Trump, this would fit, but most of us hike a different journey.

We play by the rules, wait in line, pay our dues, and do not count on favors traded or returned. Not everyone travels the same road or experiences the same life events, but we stay in our lane and mostly rely on our own skills, talents and hard work.

When we receive a hand up, we value it enough to pass it along, to help someone else, who I hope will do the same. Free passes and unearned advances chip away at our appreciation and sense of value. You cannot really appreciate what you have not earned, although some count those as wins or accomplishments because they did not work for them, and a win is a win.

The journey we take through life is reflective of our value systems. Hard work, sacrifice, fairness, sportsmanship respect and kindness all define a certain path. Favoritism, inside dealing, exploitation, vanity and insensitivity are a different one.

A natural shortcut is not always a bad thing. Life shows you the way, not calling it a shortcut, just an opportunity open for you to weigh and choose. You may find a more efficient means, or invent a better mousetrap simply by using your brain. These are not really shortcuts; they are innovations from blood, sweat and a purpose to benefit others.

Shortcuts may be a way to increase your personal wealth and standing, but they may come at a cost. A win is not always a win, especially when the rules are manipulated in your favor. We live in a time when facts are discounted, truth is now open to interpretation, and reality has an alternative universe. If you have money, you can often buy a better form of justice. If you are White, you are safer and enjoy more entitlements. If you are in the majority, you can change the game.

I am old school enough that most things that used to be right are still right and most things wrong are still wrong. It is difficult to change the foundation to simply fit our needs. I will still wait in line and not move up because someone lets me in, which is not appropriate. I do not tip the waiter for a better table when other people are ahead of me. I do not like waiting, but I do like feeling that I have earned or deserve what I get. That is when it feels really good.

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