Many years ago while in primary school, I attempted to be an athlete. I frantically represented or attempted to represent my school in ‘open’ races whenever chance came. ‘Open’ because anyone available would be allowed to participate. Unlike the other races, participation was not restricted to the provided list of representatives (the elite runners). I together with other like-minded ‘athletes’ used to seize the opportunity to take part. I must admit we were neither driven by passion nor love for our school, but what awaited every participant who would complete a race – a spoonful of glucose, a quarter loaf of bread and a soda.

It was while on the track, that some of us would attempt to cut into the field especially at the corners to make the race shorter and more bearable. This was risky and outright cheating. Each time an official spotted someone taking shortcuts, he/she would be immediately disqualified. This meant he/she would miss out on the three precious items that awaited him/her at the finish line. From then I learned how dire the consequences of shortcuts can get. I have however, not stopped wondering why most participants would insist on shortcuts when the ramifications were such huge.

In general life, things are not different. People’s appetite for shortcuts appear to be insatiable. Many of us have grown increasingly lazy and we want things fixed the shortest way possible. We have shifted our eyes from our ultimate goals in life to the immediate ends that we can enjoy today. We are willing to do anything to have a quick fix to just about everything. Of course we can justify our actions by feigning lack of time. We have stopped looking at success as being the progressive realization of a worthy goal as well defined by Earl Nightingale. We now view success as a point on the path of life that can be gotten to through shorter routes. Nothing can be far from the truth, since for most shortcut lovers, success has remained elusive.

Shortcuts have negatively affected almost every realm of our lives today. We prefer to make instant coffee to brewing coffee, yet when the two are prepared by someone else, we all scramble for brewed coffee. Reason? Instant saves time. The education sector has not been exempted. Students who do not want to follow the known route to academic excellence, find themselves cheating not only in national examinations but also in our institutions of higher learning. The quality of output has little to be written home about.

Shortcuts in parenting have become common place. Parents increasingly wish that the entire thing was transferable or at least delegatable. The number of children who have no bond with their parents is surging. Attempts to transfer parenting to house helps are rampant. Today’s parents do not have time (or rather claim so) to check and sign their children’s school diary on a daily basis as required. The love for shortcuts pushes most parents to sign diaries two or so weeks in arrears with others going further to sign a week in advance. This is dangerous!

The love for shortcuts has heightened corruption. People do not want to follow the right routes because they take longer. Patience is no longer a virtue. We would rather pay a little something to have that which would ordinarily be delivered in three days, delivered today. We all know the scales of corruption and the effects of the same in our beloved country. I need not say more.

The quality of our buildings has increasingly been compromised because some developer needs to cut on costs and save on time. The safety of the future occupants of these buildings features nowhere in their list of factors to consider. Ascending the corporate ladder has for some people stopped being dependent on performance excellence. The urge for shorter avenues upwards has led to other factors such as sexual involvements and kickbacks destabilizing the growth equation. Juvenile delinquency and general crime is on the increase. No one wants to cultivate some legacy and patiently build anything. The examples are endless.

While the logic of the end justifying the means may apply to other fields and disciplines, it has failed to work for success and more so because success is not a commodity one can buy from the stalls. It is felt gradually and over time. It is a result of consistent effort with no circumvention of any rule or law. Not even one of the successful people I have met, read or heard about ascended to success through shortcuts. All of them learnt and mastered the ideals of delayed gratification for sustainable future glory. The urge for instant gratification robes from your future.

Once there was a bird singing in the forest and a farmer was passing by. The bird stopped him and asked, “What do you have in the box and where are you going?” The farmer replied that he had worms and that he was going to the market to trade them for some feathers. The bird said, “I have many feathers. I will pluck one and give it to you and that will save me looking for worms.” The farmer gave the worms to the bird and the lark plucked a feather and gave it in return. The next day the same thing happened and the day after and on and on until a day came that the bird had no more feathers. Now it couldn’t fly and hunt for worms. It started looking ugly and stopped singing and very soon it died.

Don’t be like this bird. Work on what you believe in. Invest consistent effort in it and do not be lured into the misleading euphoria of instant happiness. Step by step is the quickest way to the top as it allows you chance to learn vital lessons along the way. See you at the top! You Can Do Better!

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