All over the internet people are looking for productivity hacks; tips and tricks to help you do more, faster. 

Successful writer and marketing authority, Seth Godin, offers one simple trick to making everything faster and easier. That secret is: 

“Stop chasing shortcuts.”

Eh? Don’t see how that can help?

We look for shortcuts, or hacks, all the time. In marketing, careers and relationships, we want a quick success plan; to jump forward rather than shuffle.

People cried when various blockchains failed because they thought they could hack their way into being rich. Diet books start with: “you’ve been trying all this time missing the one simple trick to weight loss…” but they never finish that sentence simply with… “eat less processed food.” 

We want to get promoted fast, thinking we can make it happen through the right conversations. In reality, the best way to get promoted faster is to be worth more faster which means learning more in the time you have. The conversations are important but only because they give you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge.

Fast, risk-free, effortless secrets occasionally seem to work, but as Godin points out in his article, these are often at someone else’s expense. And that’s not cool. 

“if the shortcuts worked as promised, they wouldn’t be shortcuts, would they? They’d be the standard.” – Seth Godin

So what does it really mean to be a hacker and hack your way to success? 

Well, hackers are nerds. They are people who spend hours and hours and hours focusing on a very specific thing. The Hollywood image of them will be them stuck to a chair, eyes not moving, parents leaving food outside the bedroom door. It’s weird to me that we use this word to mean a short cut when it comes from people who, in general, give a lot of time to something.  

Hackers don’t shortcut their way into security systems. They outwork their way into security systems. They out-focus and outsmart their way in. They put consideration into understanding platforms and they use their unique position as an outsider to spot flaws which may not be seen in the echo chamber of development teams. They might also be considered more personally committed to their task than those they’re up against.

So to be a great hacker in life? Commit, focus, and be prepared to stand slightly on the outside. It’s honest advice that when you onboard you’ll start seeing the results of. 

“Sooner is not better.” – Ryan Holiday