SF Benson  

“Wrong Doors and Other Brutal Truths”

This morning I was on LinkedIn, scrolling through the Jobs Board, when I ran across this list by Nicolas Cole. He’s an author and also a phenomenal ghostwriter. This is his list of nineteen brutal truths about going your own way in life:

  1. Nobody will believe in you until you believe in yourself.
  2. The right way for someone else is the wrong way for you. (And the right way for you is the wrong way for someone else.)
  3. It’s only a mistake if you don’t extract a lesson.
  4. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of.
  5. It’s not about what rewards you receive, it’s about who you become.
  6. Greatness is a tiny decision you make each day.
  7. Focus is the path of least resistance. (Simplicity is velocity.)
  8. The world says you can’t until you can.
  9. What you want is who you are.
  10. Actions speak louder than words, and results speak louder than aspirations.
  11. Those who don’t understand you don’t understand themselves.
  12. Other people’s expectations are the heaviest burdens of all. (Put them down.)
  13. Differentiation costs acceptance.
  14. Errors are just misdirected efforts.
  15. Wondering is a window, not a door.
  16. You can only truly know what you have experienced.
  17. Fulfillment is a byproduct of self-acceptance.
  18. The journey is the joy.
  19. Shortcuts are always longer roads in disguise.

Did any of those stick out for you?

For me, it was the last one (I purposefully rearranged the list). Most of the time, those so-called shortcuts are full of obstacles that take longer to navigate than going from point A to point B. Often I’ve chosen the shorter path in life, hoping to reach my destination sooner. Instead of getting there, I found a slew of new challenges. Ones that I might have avoided had I stayed on the path and kept my focus on the end goal. Truthfully, I’m not sure if a traffic shortcut is truly shorter. After all, I’ve never timed them, but I kept using them. Why? Because I thought I was right.

Which leads me to my real message. What do you do when the path you’re on turns out to not be the right one? Let me explain.

When I graduated from college, I had the potential for a newspaper reporter position in the college town. All I had to do was find an apartment and get myself a car. Instead of trying to figure how to do that without help, I went to my parents—people who were looking forward to no longer funding me as a college student. I ended up moving back home and listening to people who said if I got my foot in the building, I’d find a way to get the job. In other words, if you want to be a reporter at a newspaper, get a secretarial job or some other position and work your way toward your goal. (Also known as the career shortcut.)

Newsflash: going in the side door to get to the main entrance rarely works. NBC Universal isn’t likely to suddenly hire the receptionist to report the five o’clock news or cover a breaking story. I took a lot of side doors trying to find the main entrance only to learn that I was in the wrong building (on the wrong path). Go back to the list and read number two. That side door approach may have worked for someone but it wasn’t the way for ME. I was attempting to shoulder someone else’s expectations (number twelve). It’s taken years for me to learn that my errors were simply misdirected efforts (number fourteen).

Does any of this resonate with you? If it did, I may have helped someone today. I hope so.

Take a moment and think about that list (reread it if you need to). Whatever sticks out like a sore thumb might be the piece of truth you needed to hear today. Just like me…

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