There Are No Shortcuts

I hate traffic. Not that I think anyone in the world actually *likes* being traffic (which is the case, as opposed to being stuck “in” traffic), but I think some people handle it better than others. Traffic used to irritate me to the point of intense rage. I would quickly find myself in a very foul mood over something that I had no control of whatsoever. I also got quite good at diving off the freeway and taking side streets. Sure, I was moving, but here in Austin it took me just about the same amount of time to get where I was going on surface roads than to suffer as part of traffic. I had the illusion of being faster even if I wasn’t.

This mindset of wanting to find the fastest route, to find an unknown shortcut, seems ingrained culturally. It’s how bay area “productivity” gurus make their money, selling the idea of being able to take anything, no matter how complex, and break it down into bite-sized mastery. It’s how late night infomercials sell you on the idea of a 6 week total body transformation. And you know what, everything they say is true but it is low hanging fruit. Anything that can be “hacked” was never actually time-consuming in the first place. You can streamline your systems for increased efficiency, but you’ve in no way shape or form moved into a realm outside of the actual time something can take. In other words, if you are building a house, it is fastest to have all of your materials and workers on site ready to go but this merely lets you build the house as fast as it can be built, not faster. That’s not a shortcut, that’s being efficient.

This is the dilemma in my world, the world of physical fitness. Nobody is actually after mastery and they really do feel that they’ve moved to a new level, skirted the time it actually takes to get in great shape and obtain superior health, by going to a week long boot camp in the woods or starting a new fitness regimen. Excitement is contagious and new insights hold applicability but you still have to put in the work, you still have to incorporate what you’ve learned into the bigger system of your daily life. You still have to get stronger/faster/more efficient if you are going to improve. That doesn’t happen overnight, even with things like steroids, DNP, and pergolide.

How long something is going to take is how long it is going to take. You can’t shortcut it but you can streamline and remove inefficiencies and constraints. Eventually efforts to streamline come with increasing stress and reduced response but hopefully by the time you get there, you’ve reached a place where streamlining is unnecessary. At this point you’ve accepted the practice as a practice and attempting to “get there” misses the point entirely. Shortcuts are meaningless at that point. I hope you find it soon.

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5 thoughts on “There Are No Shortcuts

  1. This is an excellent post and correct on every fact. People are attracted to quick, easy answers that only provide the illusion of being faster or easier. Eliminating distractions and obstacles are the key, ignoring the many factors that hinder positive progress. The actual work still has to be performed, no matter which path is chosen.

  2. Ahh yes, finding the deeper meaning is key; pardon the cliche, but it truly is all about the journey, not the destination.

    And by the way, what’s better than finding free-verse poetry hidden within technical explanations? “…It sublimes when carefully heated and is volatile with steam.” Awesome! :)

  3. Astute observations Skyler. I also notice how people are often attracted to fun and playful activities thinking of them as their exercise all the while avoiding hard work.

    I am all for the path of least resistance and efficiencies as I have built a business and a lifestyle around efficiency. However, in the world of strength and conditioning the path of least resistance usually means you’re not lifting enough frickin’ weight! ;-)

  4. I enjoyed the locker room pull aside info about DNP and Pergolide. Never heard of it (except as a reagent to test for an aldehyde or ketone = double bond O) . The mechanism of 2,4 DNP and metabolism is still unclear to me why that works. And how hyperthermic does one get? Spontaneous combustion. Yikes! But it’s a great launch point for a research paper for Biochem class. Score. I’ll do that after I take side streets out of traffic on my way to the lake to burn some brown fat. ;-)

    • Beck, I have read of guys lying in the snow without shirts to attempt to mitigate how hot they were. So yeah, pardon them while they burst.

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