The Shortcut to Fame and Fortune is a Delusion
As Ziggy says as he stands next to the Big Red X – “You are here.”
We’ve crested the hill and begun the descent down the slippery slope of something I struggle to name. But I think it’s Pride.
The slippery slope has been with us since the beginning of time. It’s the lure of the easier way, the shortcut to fame and fortune, the argument that if someone has more than you do, you should have it, too. Never mind the sacrifice or effort that someone else might have put into earning what they have. If it is possible for one, it should be possible for all. That’s the equal opportunity promise of our country, right?
Wrong. That’s another aspect of the slippery slope. Equal opportunity is just that. Opportunity. The results part is up to you and me and everyone else in this country. There’s never been a guarantee that your best effort would make your dreams come true. How many times did Thomas Edison fail before he became an ‘overnight success’ with the light bulb? Yeah, we forget the thousand and one other inventions that didn’t succeed.
The expression “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” came about for a reason. People quit when they think they can’t take anymore. When they’re intent on goodness (however they define it) but disappointment and dark days follow one after another, they get to the point where they think they just can’t go on. Maybe that’s you, now.
But one day something happens and they begin to hope again. Their energy gets restored. They dare to believe that if they keep putting one foot in front of the other for just a little longer, their life will turn around.
You’ve read the stories and seen the TV shows. It happens. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. But there’s a very crucial common denominator to these everyday unlikely heroes. They don’t quit. Though some days, maybe many days, they wish they would die so the struggle would finally be over, they get up in the morning. When the alarm goes off, they accept the dawn and another chance to make something happen. Odd as it may sound, there is great decency, even nobility, in that.
They see a better life for themselves. They never stop talking to people about it and they never stop believing that somehow, someday, some way they will meet someone or learn something or simply live long enough to reap the reward of their determination.
The slippery slope beckons at times like these. Maybe there’s someone out there who can carry their load for a while. Maybe there’s a program that can dissolve their worry, take away their fear, and make them whole. Maybe they don’t have to continue to struggle so. Maybe they will be given credit for their efforts so far and absolved of further struggle.
After all, other people have great riches. Surely they didn’t labor in such anguish. Shouldn’t they share? Shouldn’t they feel compassion for those who didn’t get the lucky breaks they did? Those who were not born into wealthy families or who were not lucky or smart or clever or conniving enough to weasel their way into wealth?
Ah, the slippery slope. It warps our thinking, hollows out our spirits, and siphons off our energy. Waiting for someone to come to the rescue is a capitulation of the spirit that leads to despair. The real darkness of the soul comes when we give up on ourselves. When we’re simply too tired, too scared, too angry, or too fed up with the unfairness we see—real or imagined or media generated. We’re mad as hell and we want somebody to do something about it.
If you want to thrive, don’t go there. Resist the slippery slope. You are made of the stuff of greatness. Whether or not anybody else knows it, you do. Handouts make you dependent. Protection makes you fearful. That’s not what makes you proud of yourself.
Learning, struggling and surviving, while not pretty, are amazing strength builders. When you come through a dark time—which you will if you persist—you can look back and say, “Wow. Look at what I did.”
The liberty this provides is life changing. You will never need a bailout. You will never ask someone to make the tough decisions for your life. You will never mortgage your independence for an easy day, a quick solution, or a guaranteed outcome. You will be truly free, amazingly strong, and deeply proud of yourself. You will be an asset to your family, your organization, your community, and your time.