What guides you?
Many a time I ask my mentees this question and in most cases they find themselves lost for words. What I have discovered in my sessions is that most people do not have a set of values or principles to guide them. They simply take whatever path is ahead of them as long as it has some sort of benefit without really thinking about the long term effects of the choices they make. In this microwave generation, people want what they want when they want it, regardless of the manner in which the thing they desire comes. We unfortunately live in a society whereby the end justifies the means.
I remember going for my driver’s test. I was told by many people that it was a piece of cake so I did not bother studying because I knew that I was intelligent and there was no way I was going to fail. I had passed many complicated exams after all, so a driver’s test was really not something I was going to spend my time studying. How wrong I was. I remember staring at the officer with a blank expression as I had no idea what the answers were to the questions that he asked me. I failed as a result. I was not the only one though. The thing that really shocked me however was that there were people employed in the driving centre who had the power to reverse the ‘failed ‘ status to a ‘pass’ for a little bit of money. Most people who had failed opted to pay and get their drivers’ licence instead of retaking the test. I however decided to eat humble pie. I reapplied for the test, studied and passed the second time round.
That experience left me with more questions than answers. How many unqualified drivers do we have on our roads? How many lives have been lost because many drivers opted to give bribes to get their licences? Whatever happened to dignity and integrity?
Not many people understand the long term effects of taking the easy way out. You see, bribing may get you what you want at the moment but in the long run, the quality of person you become is eroded and this in turn ends up affecting the quality of life you lead. Like I have said before, failure is a healthy part of life because there are parts of us that can only grow or get transformed when we encounter setbacks, hardship or difficulty. When I failed my test the first time, I learnt to always give 100% no matter how simple, small or easy a task may be. This is something I have applied over time which has yielded tremendous results not only in my profession but in my life as a whole. I always bring my ‘A game’ in everything that I do and as a result, I have been able to distinguish myself as a strong and trustworthy brand. I have developed a culture of excellence ever since, and that has opened doors and opportunities that I never would have imagined. I have met great people and stood on platforms that were beyond my wildest dreams. Another quality my failed driver’s test experience produced in me was persistence. After failing the first time, I put in much more effort, pulled up my socks and in the end I was successful. This taught me that life sometimes will not go my way and that in those instances, I should dig a little deeper, work a little harder, press on and eventually, I end up getting what I want.
It is very interesting how a small incident like that has had such a huge impact on the life that I lead. I now view every setback as a set-up for a comeback. I have also discovered that there is always a lesson to be learnt whenever I fail and I am always looking out for it. I cannot begin to explain the positive effects this has had on my attitude and mindset. My close family and friends are always awed by my ability to keep a positive attitude even in seemingly hard or impossible situations. Everyone around me knows that I never quit. Do you now see the valuable lesson that I would have missed out on had I decided to take the easy way out and pay a bribe like everyone else did during that test?
Truth is that the right thing is usually not the easiest thing to do and the easiest thing is seldom the right thing to do. Most people’s lives are average because they choose to take the easy way out. What they don’t know is that taking the easy way out becomes a habit and eventually a lifestyle.You can’t learn and grow by doing things the easy way. Mental toughness is only developed when we do what is uncomfortable or what most would consider hard. The path to being successful or prosperous is a process and the problem with most people is that they want the end product without necessarily going through the process. With no mental toughness, you begin to have a mindset of weakness, laziness or entitlement. To get to the top of the mountain, you have to climb it. Most people would rather just go round the mountain which is the reason they are always at the bottom.
What guides you? What are your core principles and values? Do you live by them or are they just for show? If you do not have your principles or a personal set of values, I would suggest that you begin working on having some. Your principles will help you avoid falling into short term traps. They will provide internal mechanisms for you to commit to the long term benefits when faced with short term temptations.
Do what is right, not what is easy.