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No Shortcuts To Mastery

Oh, man, can I tell you how sick I am of hacks talking about hacks? (That’s the unknowledgeable talking about quick fixes.) We’re living in a time of instant gratification. Fine. I like it, too… When it comes to downloading entertainment (and paying for it – stop sharing stealing artists’ work, people, or they’ll stop producing it), books, staying current, sharing things I own, communicating, etc.

Here is a perfect example: A prospect will ask me to come in to do a one-day workshop. I respond that I don’t do one-days because they don’t work. Another example: Someone tells me they have a speech next week and they need it to be great. Can I help? I can, but it won’t be great. You cannot deliver a great presentation with only a week from start to finish. Sorry.

Here are the things you’ll never hear from me: “It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s painless.”

Here is what you will always hear: “It’s fun. It’s fascinating. When you’ve reached your goal, you’ll feel exhilarated.”


90 thoughts on “No Shortcuts To Mastery”

  1. Good morning, Ruth!
    You are so right — everyone wants everything done right away but there is no shortcut to GREATNESS. I’m not sure if I want a shortcut for everything, but a magic wand for housework would be amazeballs! ha!
    I find that I am very impatient with myself so your post reminds me that I have to allow myself the time to work on my writing and take things one step at a time. Thank you!
    Have a wonderful day!

  2. I could not agree more. Contrary to what the author of the popular business book, “The One-Minute Manager,” might advocate, personal development is not something that happens in one minute, or one hour, or one day, or one week. It is a lifelong process, and it is not always easy. A wise person once wrote, “Life is hard; once you accept that it starts to get easier” And it starts to get fun, fascinating, and exhilarating too!

  3. The word “hack” is my word…the word that drives me crazy when I hear it! (Especially when I saw the phrase “marriage hacks.” Really?)

    In marketing, everyone wants everything “good, fast, and cheap. The reality is you can only pick two.

    As the saying goes: anything worth doing is worth doing well. Spend the time to learn. Do it well.

  4. Hi Ruth,
    I’m so glad to hear you speak on this topic. I love my kindle app, I love being able to read a book within minutes of ordering it. Some “instant” is great! But let’s not forget the time and knowledge it took to code that “instant”. As always, anything worthwhile takes care, patience, knowledge, and dedication. Don’t tell me about a hack, tell me how to do something properly.

  5. Hi Ruth,
    We’re in the technology age and people want it now or yesterday and with as little personal investment (time or money) as possible. I experience the same thing with Feng Shui… you mean I have to participate? I just can’t hang a crystal and be done with it? The old saying goes that anything worth doing is worth doing well. As you point out, great doesn’t happen over night. All the best, Diana

  6. Ruth,
    I love that you don’t promote the “short cut” way to success. Yes, working with someone who has mastered a skill or technique can help you get there faster, but it still take effort and the desire to make it happen.
    Great reminder.

  7. one of the hardest things for me to learn has been telling our clients how long the process of working with us will take. From the time we do the shoot to when they receive their final prints it’s about a year. It’s a combination of the time it takes to edit, adjust images, print and frame as well as our client backlog. I’ve learned that while our clients might want it faster, they understand and appreciate the time it takes to get museum quality work.
    Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to take that time to create mastery.

    1. This is a true master at work, Trudie. As you say, a museum quality work of art. Yes – year-long engagements with my clients also de rigueur.

  8. Great advice, Ruth. Every time I hear or read about someone guaranteeing great results fast, something that appeals to us all, I have to remind myself that it just doesn’t work that way. Your post is a wonderful reminder – success takes lots of work and practice.

  9. Hey Ruth!

    When I was very young I would watch professionals who would make their craft look easy. I believed that they were “naturals” and didn’t have to work at whatever it was they did.
    Then I grew up to know that most everyone who makes things look easy have worked very diligently to get there!

    The word hack, like pimp, gangster, etc. used to have a negative connotation. What happened?

  10. Ruth, this is so true, especially in my niche. There are so many people out there promoting the “miracle diet”, lose 30 pounds in 30 days” etc. People fall prey to this and it’s so frustrating. Change takes time, what’s the rush, it’s for a lifetime of good health. Thanks for calling out the “hacks”. I’m right there with you!

  11. Speaking and video are two of the things I know I must do to expand my business, yet I keep putting them off probably knowing deep down it will take a lot of practice. However, watching your video reminds me that starting today instead of putting it off will help me get to where I want to be. I like your honesty–reminding us these skills take time to develop–it’s not instantaneous (wish it was!).

  12. This reminds me that it takes 10-15 years to become an overnight sensation. Great post! So many times I’ve forgotten how all my efforts really do add up to mastery.

  13. Hi Ruth,

    Love this!
    I can say from experience that your promises are true. Not painless… but exhilarating


  14. Thanks for the reminder. We often forget that it takes time, practice and hard work to master anything. Often clients want to try something new without taking the time to fully learn and implement the change. It is one of my biggest frustrations with clients (and with myself at times). I need to remind myself and others that the hard work will be so worth it!

  15. We are on the same page girl! This is the only true hack. Anything that you want to do well – reach out for help from someone else who has done it well and learn from them. An expert coach is the only hack – because they can save you time, energy and money. They can save you from making mistakes that they made on their way to mastery and shorten your learning curve to a straight line. You have done that for me Ruth!!

  16. Dear Ruth,

    I love the new look of the page. It’s absolutely a mirror of you, of your clients and of your services. The exquisite, chique black-and-white business appearance and the cutty gorgeous red shoes for the red carpet appearance – wonderful and authentic for you!!!
    Easy to navigate, easy to decide if it’s for me or not.
    I love what you do and highly appreciate your comments on political speeches and politicians’ public speaking skills – they are fairly educating.

    The only challenge I have with the new page features – testimonials are changing too quickly – I can’t manage reading them – i would like to indulge in other people’s experience with your products and services.
    Have great success!
    Thank you, Margarita

  17. So true, Ruth. Procrastinators invite us into their frenzied world! No thanks.

    Love these short, punchy recordings.
    You are the Pro’s Pro!

  18. I am very guilty of this too, I think it comes from living in a chaotic environment where I need to work on my time management. We want everything, and we want it now. Like the old saying goes, the best things are worth working for and waiting for… If it was easy everyone would be doing it 🙂 ~ Thanks Ruth! Angela

  19. Ruth, I love your honesty as there’s way too little of it in today’s world. I’m always going to struggle with how to give people enough of what they “want”, to earn the right to also give them what they “need”.

    I will always look up to you as a role model of the right way to deliver a message, and can’t wait to read your new book … as I continue to develop my voice & messages.

    Thanks for being who you are, I love you!

  20. Dear Ruth –
    I love your “truth”
    Practice, Practice, Practice … it’s a discipline that so many people shy away from or are never taught – perhaps they learn with sports, definitely as musicians (I know that one!)and performing and creative artists.
    So many people just start talking or presenting – and I (we) can tell that they have not done the focused integrated mind|body|hear|spirit|soul practice or preparation, even if they know the words. As in – the difference between playing the notes and making music.
    Thank you!
    xo, Danila

  21. Absolutely. Clients forget that mastery takes both time and application. We live in a culture where people expect to be able to pay what ever it takes to cut the corner: they confuse buying the book with reading it; they think that by simply showing up at the workshop the skill and knowledge will be magically transformed into implementation with no human intervention necessary (especially not theirs). And marketers have played on that mercilessly by marketing quick fixes that are often anything but. I work by a simple principle: if a client is put off by the idea that things will take time and effort then they are probably not the client for me

  22. We live in a very fast paced society and that makes us look for faster and faster solutions, which is why people always want a quick fix. I personally have found it a challenge to find a balance between doing things that will bring in long term results in my business versus doing things that will immediately bring in income (which is often the quick fix).

    I definitely see the value in putting in the time and effort in, to be able to do something very effectively, but it seems like sometimes shortcuts are necessary, especially when you need to produce in a short time frame.

    1. We all struggle with this, Kasey. There is a place for shortcuts, but not when it comes to mastery. Thanks for posting.

  23. Ruth,
    I LOVE the new website! The look is simple and elegant and speaks volumes. I look forward to exploring it more.

    And thank you for today’s video. As a professional musician, I understand the need for mastery in any skill and am often frustrated by clients who aren’t ready to make that commitment. You say it so well.

    Best of luck with your new site. Your brand is right on target.

    1. I am also a trained musician. We KNOW about practice and mastery and muscle memory, which can only be attained via putting in the time. Thanks, Paula!

  24. You are right Lisa, lack of preparation is a traight line to failure. I have failed on several occasions attempting to take advantage of an opportunity that I was not prepared for. When this happens odubt enters and with doubt comes fear.Once I took the time to prepare ther was no fear wether I accomplised or not. What a wonderful feeling!

    1. Totally is, Oris. We all try to take the shortcut and we all fail. Some of us learn from that. Others, not so much. Thank you!

  25. Oh Mastery, what is the way, to obtain and achieve it?It is not for the faint of heart, but for those brave enough to face it, swim in it, embrace it and share it. Thank you Ruth for your pose and grace to speak truth bombs about the mindset on how to deliver not just the best information to others, but pointing the way to deliver the best of ourselves. We can instantly be gratified in just knowing we are enough, but it takes focus, clarity and skill to instantly gratify ot others curiosities and wants/solutions to their problems.

  26. Ruth, this video is absolutely spot-on, and for me the timing is perfect as an inspiration to keep on keepin’ on. I’ve changed careers from airline pilot to entrepreneur as a B2B copywriter for aviation, and the amount of information I’m having to learn is overwhelming. (It makes flying the plane look like a walk in the park!) I have to remember to give myself a bit of time – I didn’t go from pre-solo student to jet Captain overnight, either. Thank you for the reminder that it’s not going to be quick, easy, or painless, but it should be fun, fascinating, and exhilarating! (If a bit exhausting.)

  27. So right Ruth! The hacks pushing hacks cheapen the accomplishments of those willing to do the work.

    Does it ever occur to anyone there is a reason there are only so many professional athletes, musicians, and actors? It is because these folks worked their tails off for years to master their craft, and not everyone is willing to do that. It is no different for any other skill. There is no substitute for practice, practice, and then some more practice.

  28. The best things are worth waiting and working for. So true. Thanks for the honesty. The fast food mentality can leave you with the bloat of overwhelm and disappointment. There’s a sense of adventure, fun, and personal satisfaction in the putting in of effort and watching the culmination in results.
    Thanks again for this post, Ruth.

  29. Thanks for this thoughtful posting. Being willing to undertake the longer journey over the quick fix admits the possibility of realizations or accomplishments you didn’t foresee, and such “bonuses” are often far more authentic than what you planned.

  30. ‘Hack’ brings to mind the old saying: “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is”. Anything worth having and mastering a skill takes time (and work).

  31. I have picked up the sport of rowing, and it, more than anything I’ve done reinforces the “practice makes perfect” mantra. It looks so easy……..and two years later I may no longer be a beginner. Patience and perseverance are integral parts of the process. I look forward to your tips and techniques every day.

  32. This is so true. It’s so frustrating when in my biz, people think they can undo life-long patterns in 3 hours or less. It’s always a good message that real life, and real change, are a process, and putting in the work is what pays off.

  33. Ruth I love the honesty and your integrity to stick with what you know and let things go if need be. I find that many people would rather keep reinvesting than do the ‘work’ to make it happen for themselves

  34. I loved your comments about hacks. It is true that anything worth learning takes time. In part, I think that’s because it takes at least 45 day to set a new habit, and that is just for simple things. But I am curious about what you think about procrastination or about over-learning (it’s never quite “good enough” to go live or to publish). Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. That’s actually a type of paralysis that is, I think, driven by fear of failure. No one is ever masterful at the beginning of learning a skill. Thank you, Edie.

  35. The shortening of attention spans is a huge problem today. It has nothing to do with efficiency, as a proper level of attention to detail is a requirement for success, and too many people lack this today.

    Related to this would also be the “lost” skill of listening!

    1. Yes, Richard! So true. I think it has a lot to do with the amount of info that is thrown at us every minute of every day. It’s hard to focus. Thank you.

  36. I am such a prime example of this – unfortunately! I listen to audiobooks at 3x the speed and I’ve noticed that I don’t have the attention span to watch super long videos anymore. I guess I’m a product of the millenial culture. But, I will do better! Thanks, Ruth.

    By the way, is your launch offer still good? I hope so because I really need your help!

    1. We all have these types of expectations. Because people are always promising “fast, easy, painless.” It’s just not true.

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