Fast food. Instant winnings. Real time communications. We glorify instant gratification in every conceivable realm. But at what cost?

By seeking results without effort we miss out on mastery.

We deal in sound bites rather than thoughtful discourse. We grab “silver bullet” solutions that inevitably disappoint us and feed our cynicism. We admire the “win” without respecting the practice that preceded it. We teach our children short cuts to fame and fortune rather than commitment and resilience under pressure.

As shareholders, we put the heat on CEO’s who don’t maximize earnings each quarter. As a society, as our highways crumble we punish any politician who pushes for a raise in the gas tax, even while the price of gas is at a 5 year low.

The current hit movie, The Imitation Game, tells the story of Alan Turing and his persistent effort to break the Nazi’s “unbreakable” Enigma code.  Turing was pressured, even bullied, into giving up his “grand solution” and returning to the known methods of the day. His detractors sabotaged his efforts.  He persisted. He kept doing the work. He inspired his skeptical co-workers to persist as well. They fought those who tried to stop them, broke the code and shortened the war.

Choose mastery over “instant gratification”. 

We can choose how we live and how we lead. We can teach our children that it’s persistent effort that counts. That showing up each day, doing your work, taking the short-term risk for the long term gain, is the path to a deeper, more fulfilling life and sustainable achievements. That instant gratification is a thief.

We can purge our homes of over-processed instant foods. Rediscover the joys of preparing real food together. We can turn away from charlatans who promise a quick fix to complicated problems and instead employ real craftspeople who take pride in their products and their services.

At work, we can avoid a single-minded focus on short-term results and band-aid solutions, embrace the full complexity of our most important problems and give our people the time and resources to take risks, learn, and keep taking ground on a solution. We can lead our people in getting big, gnarly things done.

We can choose mastery in life, without short cuts and without skipping over the tough parts that hold the key to leaving a proud legacy. Mastery is the path to a life well-lived.

Live well, friends.