THE MORAL INDIVIDUAL

There Are No Shortcuts

On The Path To Success and Happiness

The purpose of your life is to enjoy it! Whenever I say that, someone always asks, "how do you know that is the purpose of your life?"

Here's the deal. This article is about achieving success as a human being. The statement is not a profound philosophical explanation of, "the meaning of life," or anything like that. It simply means that the purpose of life cannot be to suffer and die.

I know there are some people who really believe life is meant to be endured, almost as a kind of punishment. For those with such ascetic views I have nothing to say. If one's ideal is suffering, no instructions are required. Suffering, failure, and regret require no special effort. If you don't do anything to make your life a success, suffering and failure will certainly be yours.

Most people do not want to suffer, they want to enjoy their lives, to succeed and be as happy as they possibly can. This article is for them.

No Short Cuts

No one wants to be unhappy. People want to enjoy a life that is both fulfilled and successful; they want to be the best person they can be. That's what they want but few know how to achieve it.

The truth is, that kind of life is available to anyone, but it is not an easy life. One's own success and happiness is the most valuable thing one can possibly achieve, but it is also the most difficult thing one will ever do. Though most people want a life of success and happiness most are unwilling to pay the price to have it. Instead they are led astray from the true pursuit of success and happiness, seeking an easier way.

But there is no easier way. [See the companion article to this article, "The Only Path To Success And Happiness," for the only true and sure way to live a fulfilled life.]

On the path to success and happiness there are no shortcuts. On the contrary, every promised quick answer, easy solution, and "secret" method to what you desire is a detour that will take you off the road to success, in some cases, permanently. This article will help you identify the kind deceptions meant to lure you off your course.

Secret Keys, Instant Solutions, And Life Transforming Miracles

Success and happiness are possible to anyone willing to do what is required to achieve that kind of life, but it takes a lifetime of effort and dedication to the most important thing in life, making one's life the best it can possibly be.

That kind of life is not easy, however, and most people are willing to believe anything that promises them an easier way to the kind of life they desire and whole industries have grown up to provide those kinds of promises.

One of the most successful of those industries with no other purpose than to sell people "products" promising them everything they believe they want is called the motivational-training and personal-development industry.

I call it the short-cut-to-success-and-happiness industry, which consists of everything from books, to personal counselors and trainers, to classes, programs, and seminars that promise everything from instant success to total transformation—and every one of them is a scam.

[NOTE: All the links that follow are provided only to verify that I have not made up or exaggerated the kind of promises and claims made by those in these kinds of industry. The example of books and companies are not meant to denigrate them. Obviously many individuals believe they find value in such things and the publishers and producers of these products are often sincere. Nevertheless, the true value of such things must be determined by each individual. It is doubtful that a moral individual will find these products of any real value.]

Short-Cut Promises

There are thousands of books, hundreds of blogs and personal-development sites, individuals, and companies promising short cuts to almost every kind of success. There are some books, sites and individuals who do provide some practical information and principles, especially in very specific fields that might be useful to some, but most of these individuals and organizations make outrageous claims and impossible promises.

There is an old saying, if something seems too good to be true, it is. If you look at the claims made by those who promise short-cuts to success, they are all too good to be true.

Please notice what the books making these promises have in common:

They are all gimmicks—collections of "easy to learn" and "easy to implement" methods or tricks that guarantee success, happiness, wealth, love, or anything else one might want. Just learn these secrets, discover these pillars of wisdom, develop these habits, or implement these keys and everything you've ever wanted, or wanted to be, is yours.

Some of these books probably have some practical ideas of possible value, but the implied promises are just not true. There is no trick, gimmick, or secret to a successful life. What one needs to know and the things one must do to achieve any of the things these books promise take a great deal of time and effort both to learn and implement. If you expect the kind of success or happiness these books promise by the simple route they promise you will not only be disappointed, you will have wasted time and effort and emotional investment that you could have used in an honest pursuit that which is worth living for.

There are people who are enormously successful in every area of success promised by these books. You can be certain none of those who are successful in any of those fields read a book of secrets on one weekend and became fabulously successful the next.

Big Business

The motivational-training and personal-development industry is big business, lucrative and influential.

The products of these businesses is a kind of snake-oil. The snake-oil salesman's products of the past promised to cure everything but actually accomplished nothing except to line the pockets of the salesmen. The promises of the motivational-training and personal-development hawkers also promise to cure every problem and provide instant success in every aspect of life but actually solve no problems and provide lots of empty and useless methods and strategies which are often very dangerous. Here is a principle, whenever something as presented as the answer or solution to everything, it is always the answer or solution to nothing.

Here are some modern snake-oil companies:

  • Ziglar "Let Ziglar change your life!" is the promise with their "Life Changing Program," and you will, "Be happier, healthier, more prosperous, more secure, and ... have more friends, better family relationships, peace of mind, and hope in the future."

  • Optimal Thinking Provides, "Motivational Seminars & Professional Development Workshops," that promise: Peak Performance, Leadership Skills, Optimize Time Management, Communication Skills, Optimal Supervisor Skills, Critical Thinking, and Innovation." None of these can be learned in seminar and some of them are seriously questionable concepts, like 'leadership," and, "Critical Thinking."

  • Core Excellence provides training in everything related to business personnel. It's primary promise is, "to help our clients achieve Organization Excellence through hr training and development, good governance & training management." Let them train your personnel and your company will be "excellent," and succeed.

  • 2017 Top Leadership Training Companies lists 20 companies providing training to business that promises to turn every employee into powerful, innovative, charismatic leaders. You can examine them for yourself. (No one seems to wonder, if they're all leaders, who are the followers.)

  • PSI provides seminars that teach you to "Attract and Achieve The Wealth, Peace of Mind, Relationships, Spiritual Connection and Health You Desire!" The seminars are only $795 and either four days or five days (three days and an evening or four days and an evening). That one can be made into a total success in only four days and less than $800 is truly miraculous.)

  • Landmark Worldwide promises to teach you how to, "Live an Extraordinary Life," and to, "Redefine What's Possible."

    "The Landmark Forum is designed to bring about positive, permanent shifts in the quality of your life—in just three days. These shifts are the direct cause for a new and unique kind of freedom and power—the freedom to be at ease and the power to be effective in the areas that matter most to you: the quality of your relationships, the confidence with which you live your life, your personal productivity, your experience of the difference you make, your enjoyment of life."

    The three-day forums are only $625 to $795, depending on location, and your whole life will be changed.

    [NOTE: Life transforming events are possible, but they are seldom positive changes. An accident that causes permanent physical injury or a tragedy that causes extreme loss of property or loss of a loved one for example. But positive changes also occur rarely when some traumatic event makes one realize the course of their life is wrong. These are extreme exceptions and cannot be achieved in a three-day seminar.]

    The older article, "The Secret Key To Everything," discusses some of the wrong things Landmark Worldwide promotes.

  • Franklin Covey is not only the author of, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but the founder of a huge personal development company. In 2011 I wrote "The Covey Coven." which exposes the very bad things taught and promoted by the Covey enterprises.

  • Edward de Bono, whose home page says, "Learn more about the life of Dr. de Bono, his books, his ideas and the courses that can improve the way you think by training your brain for success," has been promoting his disastrous views of the mind and thinking since the 1960s. He has been fabulously successful in spite of the fact what he teaches is totally without basis and frequently contradicts basic science and technology. I wrote the article, "The de Bono Brothers," in 2011 exposing the entire scam.

Other Short Cuts

There are other forms of supposed short cuts to success and happiness.

One is based on the ideas that every individual is born with a certain type of personality and to be successful in life one must learn what kind of personality they have and conform their life to that kind of personality. One of the most ancient forms of these superstitions are horoscopes, a superstition that persists to this day.

Perhaps the most famous is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) organization. The two essential problems with the whole false, "personality type," hypothesis is that it denies the volitional nature of every human being and the fact that every individual is a unique human being—every human being is a unique type and the only one of that type.

The article, "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator," discusses everything that is wrong with the whole personality type delusion.

Most religions are also forms of the short-cut method to success and happiness, a theme covered in the satiric article, "Religion."

Discernment

One should be cautious of any promise of anything that seems exceptionally good, easy, or cheap, or powerful. There are certain characteristics of things that seem too-good-to-be-true. The following is a list of such characteristics and what to look for.

  • Secret or insider information that is only available to a select or limited number of insiders or specially initiated individuals is called esoteric knowledge. When knowledge is described that way it is either useless (unless you are member of some secret lodge or club) or phony. Real knowledge is difficult, but it is not hidden or secret. Anyone can learn it and it is available everywhere.

    Some knowledge is extremely difficult to learn and understand and takes huge amounts of dedication and effort to master. Such knowledge is not, esoteric, it is recondite (which simply means very difficult and only capable of being mastered by a willing few).

  • Secret or hidden or unrevealed information or knowledge is another deceptive promise. The only secret about this kind of information is that the seller of it makes money from all the suckers who buy it. Nothing is a "secret," if it's available to anyone who will pay for it.

  • Exclusively from an authority, expert, or guru and available from no other source is how much success-snake-oil is advertised. Real knowledge does not require an expert, an authority, or guru to explain it. It can help sometimes if a subject is very complex, like the Calculus or organic chemistry, if there is someone who knows the subject well to help explain the more difficult aspects of the subject, but there is never just one such informed teacher. If there is only one teacher, what is being taught is surely made-up nonsense.

  • The answer to everything is a certain sign that whatever is being offered is either much less than advertised or worthless. Nothing is the answer to everything—a cure for every disease or an answer to every problem, a sure method to wealth, popularity, creativity, success, happiness or anything else. There is only one way to anything of real value in this world and it is called productive effort.

  • Infallible and cannot fail, just follow these six easy steps, do these four exercises every day, hold these secret thoughts in your head, listen to the CDs or watch the videos, and whatever you desire will come to you without fail. Sure! There is even a money-back guarantee.

  • Quick, easy, simple, effortless. Learn a language in three days, become an expert on anything (just name it) by taking this course, or seminar, or using our training CDs. Nothing of real permanent value is easy, nothing worth accomplishing can be done quickly, no real knowledge is simple, and absolutely nothing worthwhile can be done effortlessly. The worst things in life are free: poverty, disease, and ignorance are easy and effortless. Everything of value requires learning, planning, time, and effort.

  • Huge rewards for tiny investment, like having a transformed life or total success from reading one book, attending a three-hour, three-day, or three-week seminar. No real knowledge can be learned in a few hours, or days, or even weeks. Any subject worth knowing requires many hours and often years to master. Huge rewards are possible, but only to those who make a huge investment.

  • You, or anybody, can do it. It is true you can do anything that is right to do and physically possible that you truly want and choose to do. In that sense you can achieve anything and be whatever you choose to be. What you cannot do is achieve what you have no ability to achieve or be anything that defies your own nature. You cannot be a four foot eleven star basketball player and you will not be a famous composer if you are tone deaf. (Though considering modern "music," perhaps the last is not true.)

Who Can You Trust?

The truth is no one else can tell you how to achieve success and happiness. The primary reason that is true is because no one else can know you as well as you do and since everyone is different everyone ultimately must discover for themselves how to live their life.

I can tell you about some things that, if you or anyone else chooses them in their thinking or their behavior, will definitely make success and happiness impossible. I can also tell you some of the principles you must understand and incorporate in your thinking and choices if you want to live successfully and happily. Even if you understand all the principles and attempt to implement them, however, there is no guarantee success and happiness will follow automatically.

Ultimately, how you choose to live your life is entirely up to you. Whether or not your life will be successful will be determined by one thing, the nature of reality. If how you choose to live your life conforms to the requirements of the real world in which you live, and conforms to the requirements of your own nature as a human being, your life will be successful and happy. Within those limits, there is almost nothing you must or must not do and you are free to live however you choose, only you must choose it.

There is only one authority you can trust, the authority of your own mind. If you cannot trust your own mind to learn all you need to learn and to make right choices, how could you trust you own mind to know which other authority to trust?

—(10/14/17)
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