In a world where instant material success is celebrated, even if such success is often short-lived, those of us who seek longevity and sustainability have always looked elsewhere.
Since the dotcom days before the year 2000, many Internet software companies emerged from nowhere, and shot to momentary stardom in the media, and in the stock markets. Compared to traditional “brick and mortar” companies which produced real products that are used by real people, the dotcom companies often sold virtual dreams, creating so-called new markets that literally went nowhere. And from history, we knew what happened – the entire dotcom industry collapsed, and all those “stars” disappeared very quickly. Those companies still standing today from those dotcom days, happen to be the same “brick and mortar” companies, or similar companies that created real things for real people, serving real needs for real people.
The dotcom age illustrated one notion of chasing after the fastest path to material success, whatever the costs, at whatever the means. Many of the same “principles” crossed over to the financial industry, eventually also leading to its massive collapse and a systemic correction that begged national rescues to some entities.
We can rationally, and emotionally agree that shortcuts are never the best way to a sustainable success, just as shortcuts never lead to any success in martial arts, baking, cooking, architecture, medicine, and so on. You need time. You need discipline. You need perseverance. You need heart.
There is no quantum leap that can propel any natural person from zero to hero.
When I was learning Karate as a child, we would jog barefoot around the estate, an unpleasant experience that we did not understand as children. However, in hindsight, the stoic demands of my Sensei makes perfect sense now. There is no progress without a sustained effort.
In the same token, we had to practice Kata after Kata, repeatedly every session. To some people who do not understand martial arts, they might imagine that all they want to learn are the fancy moves they see in make-believe movies, and defeating people in fights.
But as we true martial artists know, it is never about beating anyone, but about self-discipline, humility, respect, meditation, and a state of peace and stillness with oneself. No matter what our Sensei demanded or said, we would grit our teeth against the external pains, with the utmost humility, and carry on. There is no shortcut that can accomplish these, just as Orthodox Christian monks take a lifetime in repentance, fasting, and prayers.
Sometimes, momentarily, we may be tempted by false promises of easy journeys and shortcuts to success. But anyone who has walked a little distance in life, would reconcile peacefully with himself that the road to leadership is about having the courage and humility to go the extra mile, and to keep going the straight and narrow path despite the lures or jeers on the street-side.
The long and arduous journey towards a sustainable and credible success, is often where we find the greatest joy. Keep going, take deep measured breaths, travel light, and enjoy the view.