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March 26, 2017

9:09 PM

If necessity is the mother of all inventions, what is created by laziness?

Francisco Miraval

Recently, a young man asked for my advice about his best options to study a certain career. I briefly shared some ideas about colleges to go and companies to contact, so he could get internships, real work experience, and perhaps even mentors in the industry of his choice. He looked at me and then he said:

“But that’s too much work”.

I admire the honesty expressed by this young person and his ability to assess in a matter of seconds that some goals in life require work, efforts, and dedication. I know he is young, but I was surprised that the moment he saw the mountain in front of him he was so paralyzed he couldn’t even take the first step, in spite of his potential.

Granted, not all activities, businesses, careers, opportunities, or studies are for everybody. Sometimes, achieving a goal requires such a high level of commitment that it is impossible to do it. Yet, that situation is different from seeing the road ahead and doing nothing because “it is too much work”.

In life, many goals require a long journey, meaning a long-term commitment with oneself until the goal is reached.

For example, if you want to visit a certain temple at the top of the Tai Mountain (one of the five sacred mountains for the Taoists in China), you will need to climb a stair with more than 7000 steps made of stone, with a length of almost a mile from the bottom of the stairs to the temple.

According to a recent report, every day around 10.000 tourist from China and from all over the world arrive at Tai Mountain ready to climb the stairs, but few would actually accomplish such a demanding task. So, many of them decide instead to take a bus to the middle point of the stairs and use a cable car to get from there to the temple.

Unfortunately, in real life there are few shortcuts like those and we need to keep climbing.

I wish I could have said to the young man who asked for my advice that anything worthy in life is also demanding, such as climbing one of the longest stairs in the world. The reason is easy to understand: reaching a goal is like climbing stairs, because you change your perspective. And once you are at the top, you will decide whether the time and efforts were worthy.

At the same time, if you want to stay where you are now, do nothing. To remain the same, no effort is needed. It is almost incredible and certainly paradoxical that many people choose that option, according to the recent report The Psychology of Not Wanting to Know, by Gerd Gigerenzer and Rocío García Retamero.

Perhaps the expectation of instantaneity in our modern life, and the clear lack of willingness to assume any kind of responsibilities, are preventing us from a journey of discovery which, as any journey, it is also and always a journey of self-discovery. 

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