There are no Real Shortcuts in Life

[May 25, 2022]  On one very hot, very sunny, very dangerous morning one day in the Iraq desert, my Soldiers came upon an unusual geological formation near a small village.  We were searching for dirt fill to build walls to protect a new combat outpost.  My Soldiers were about to discover something that our ancestors knew – that there are no shortcuts in whatever you do and that there are also no shortcuts in life.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Helen Keller

The unusual formation jumped up from the desert floor to about two yards high, flat on top, and about two acres in area.  It was perfect for what we needed.  Our Soldiers began immediately excavating.  After a short time, one of our engineer equipment operators came to me with a vase that was uncovered.  It was simple and unadorned.  It was the kind of vase you might find in a trash pile behind a modern shop selling vases.  It was a clue to something more substantial.

A few minutes later, I was asked to see an unusual object in the diggings.  I recognized a piece of human skull straightaway.  It was very old, white from long being buried there.  I promptly halted the excavation.  We had not done our due diligence by asking the local villagers about the area or using test pits to look for valuable objects.  In times of war, shortcuts can be dangerous, leading to greater problems.  In this case, we uncovered an ancient burial area and had violated the hallowed grounds.

By this time, I knew that most Iraqi citizens rarely had reverence for “old” buildings or objects from ancient times.  Their interests were on the here and now; yesterday was the past and meant little except for a few religious symbols and texts.  An ancient burial ground had no value.  Who were those buried there?  No one could tell us, and the villagers permitted us to continue with our work.  Instead, we chose to stop.

There are no real shortcuts in life.  The older I get, the more I realize the truth to this statement.  Yes, on occasion, we can take a shortcut and perhaps get away without a penalty for a limited time.  However, life doesn’t work that way.  Shortcuts are a betrayal of sorts.  It tells us that our standard ways of thinking are somehow deficient.  Taking shortcuts is the beginning of a corruption of our beliefs and standards of behavior.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Live a life of responsibility and truth.  And avoid shortcuts when you can.

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Please purchase my book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq” (September 2021), on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “There are no Real Shortcuts in Life

  1. Dead Pool Guy

    There are no “real” shortcuts in life. That is sooooo true. I too learned this the hard way. You have to slowly and methodically build your network of good folks. Then care for them and do good by them. And that is only a small part of being successful.

    Reply
  2. McStompie

    Like so many higher ups in large and complex organizations, they start to see only what is around them and fail to take into account those things outside their purview. James Comey at the FBI, fired by President Trump, is a classic example of a corrupt (and in this case evil man). It makes me happy when they are caught and exposed for their frauds on the American people.

    Reply
    1. Frank Graham

      Right, just like what you said today on Delf “Jelly” Bryce’s article. Thanks McStompie. ✔

      Reply
      1. Marx and Groucho

        Yes, good to reach ahead and pull those thoughts into this one!!

        Reply
  3. Gil Johnson

    Always good to hear a good story and this is what Gen. Satterfield has once again given us. That is how he gets his message across. Be a good storyteller. And, tell tales of our heroes.

    Reply
  4. USA Patriot II

    Gen. Satterfield, you made my day with this blog post. You’ve certainly been on a run lately.
    Go USA
    Go USA
    Go USA

    Reply
    1. American Girl

      USA Patriot II, it is always a pleasure to come across someone who is truly patriotic. Not blind patriotism but thoughtful patriotism that is learned in the crucible of fire, those who have actually fought for freedom and are not some whiner snowflake that is ‘offended’ at every word. Those scardy cats will never rule the world.

      Reply
  5. Janna Faulkner

    “I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something Greater than You, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” — Judy Collins, I just love Judy Collins. One smart lady.

    Reply
  6. Eye Cat

    Life is hard. Life is complex. We will never understand it all, esp if we are not the smartest person on the block. So, don’t take shortcuts except in extreme emergency and them know you might fail spectacularly. 👍

    Reply
    1. Plato

      Just what I was thinking too, Eye Cat.
      “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

      Reply
    2. Mikka Solarno

      Yeah, we’re not all smart. But we can learn and follow what works.

      Reply
      1. Laughing Monkey

        Many will not be that smart. Got to have others who will help guide us and show us when we are off the path. If we reject those willing to tell us we are wrong (and not be stupidly ‘offended’ why those who would help us), them maybe just maybe we will do well in this world and “adopt a noble cause.”

        Reply
  7. Max Foster

    Avoid shortcuts where you can. I think so. Too many times, I thought I could do something for my family and take the easy route instead of the way we’ve always done it. I don’t mean a road shortcut to go somewhere but a shortcut like not letting my parents know we were passing their home (didn’t want to take time out of our trip). Wrong! It never works out like you think. Don’t take shortcuts in life. Build your family and your professional life one step at a time.

    Reply
  8. Doc Blackshear

    “Shortcuts are a betrayal of sorts. It tells us that our standard ways of thinking are somehow deficient. Taking shortcuts is the beginning of a corruption of our beliefs and standards of behavior.” a great quote from Gen. Satterfield and so very true.

    Reply
    1. Tom Bushmaster

      ✔ Yeah, I noticed this also. Shortcuts are a betrayal of sorts. Ingenious. Something to think about a long time. I hope I fully understand what he means.

      Reply
  9. JT Patterson

    Gen. Satterfield, very thoughtful blog post. Yes, IMO, there are no true shortcuts to life or to much of anything. Well, perhaps there are a few in small things but not in the big parts of life or work.

    Reply
  10. Audrey

    Another great article from the “bunker” of Gen. Satterfield – helping us with the daily chaos that stupid politicians out of Washington DC are raining down upon us.

    Reply
    1. Pumpkin Spice

      Audrey, nailed it. Always a breath of fresh air to read this blog like I do every morning. With my dog at my side, and a cup of coffee in my hand, I’m reading this and typing this comment on my computer. Relaxing later today and getting ready for Memorial Day.

      Reply
      1. Willie Strumburger

        Right Pumpkin Spice, get ready for Memorial Day. Search for articles written by Gen. Satterfield for Memorial Day. They help set the tone.

        Reply
      2. Yusaf from Texas

        Good comment PS. Got me to laugh a little. 😊

        Reply

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