The nature of any shortcut is to reduce the work it takes to get the same result. In essence you are bypassing certain steps that you estimate aren’t need to get you to the very same destination. For the purposes of this article, I’m not talking about the shortcuts you take to shave off an extra 5 minutes on your ride home (although that certainly applies to other kinds of shortcuts). I’m talking about the shortcuts you seem to think you’re making in your life that will only bite you in the ass later. The fact of the matter is that we’re all guilty of this. I mean who wouldn’t want a quicker way to better results? All of us do. But somehow, some way, we’ve all found ourselves craving the quick fix. It’s in our nature to want it all, and to want it now. So let’s break it down. I decided to use a few examples of shortcuts I tried to take in life that only wound up biting me in the ass.
The Net Worth Debacle
A number of years ago I discovered that there was a gaping hole for the term “net worth” in Google’s search results. What I mean by that is there was only one website that seemed to have a monopoly on the rankings of every person’s net worth. For example, if you were to type in “Jay Z Net Worth” into Google you’d always get the same site ranking #1. That site is Celebritynetworth.com. It’s still the dominant website for all “net worth” related terms, but now there are at least a ton of competitors, one of which is a site I own. Anyway, back then I saw this as a tremendous opportunity to start getting search traffic for anything related to “net worth.” And because there was a ton of volume for the term, it was worth going after. Millions and millions of people a day are searching for famous people’s net worth. Don’t ask me why. They just do. So the plan was to begin writing about the net worth of basically anyone who we thought people would be searching for. And so it began.
At the time I had a partner, and we saw results very quickly. We began to rank for the net worth of a number of different people and the traffic to our website was growing. We simply had our writers create original content based on the research they could find that would allow them to write an article solely dedicated to how a certain person achieved their net worth. Within about a month or two we had around 40 net worth articles up and all were doing well. The growth was steady. In hindsight we should have just kept on doing what we were doing. But we didn’t. We got greedy. We discovered that we would be able to bypass having to write original articles by setting up an API where we’d be able to capture information from a service we were paying for. We set up a template which enabled us to autofill a ton of information and essentially create net worth pages in bulk. In a matter of weeks we would be able to publish thousands of net worth pages that we were hoping would rank in the search results and exponentially increase our traffic. None of this was illegal or anything like that. It’s done all the time to create pages with information. Think real estate listings. So we gave it a try.
What happened? It worked! It actually worked extremely well. Traffic kept increasing and we got hungrier and hungrier. The work to set all this up was actually quite extensive, not to mention expensive. Was it worth it? It certainly seemed like it was….until it wasn’t. Within only a few months we were penalized by Google for having automated content that didn’t match up with their quality guidelines. All the rankings disappeared and even worse than that, the entire rankings of the site went into the crapper. So it wasn’t just net worth articles that were affected. It was everything. Traffic was decimated, as was revenue. The site never, I repeat never, fully recovered. All we had to do was keep sticking with one article at a time doing it the right way, and we would have been fine. I later found this out by starting my own site and slowly and consistently creating net worth articles. It had the desired effect I was searching for. I never sped up, never slowed down. I just kept producing original content with zero automation. No tricks. No bullshit. In fact I’m still doing it to this day. Having been in the website game for 15 years, I know one of the first rules of Google search is original and quality content. You simply can’t get that through automation or any type of shortcut. It’ll never work. We paid the price for it. Lesson learned.
Changing one’s body – dieting
This is probably one of the most common areas in which human beings take shortcuts and these shortcuts inevitably lead to horrible results. In fact, sometimes the results are worse than the initial starting points. Sometimes when we want to lose weight, what do we do? We go completely ballistic by going on insane diets and taking extreme measures to lose weight faster. You might be familiar with the term “yo-yo dieting.” Inevitably we can’t keep up this unnatural way of living and eventually return to our previous diets and lifestyles. And in many cases this return leads us to a worse condition than we were in before. The reality is if you want to make permanent changes to your body it needs to be done gradually so the changes and new lifestyle remain permanent. It’s better to lose 20 lbs over the course of 6 months than it is over 1 month.
Plenty of other examples
These are only two examples of where shortcuts can kick your ass. But obviously there are many others out there. Do you really think you can become an expert at playing basketball on athletics alone? Hell no. You’ve got to take shot after shot, dribble after dribble until each skill is honed into a finely tuned machine. Want to be the best guitar player in the world? You don’t just play. You practice scales, chords, and progressions until your fingers bleed. And we’re not just talking physical skills either folks. If you want to be the best lawyer in the world you need to know the law. But it’s not just the studying. You have to have appeared in court. You have to understand witnesses, juries, judges. You have to have played “the game” for a considerable amount of time to be the best.
Sticking to true steps and fundaments yields the best results
I’m guessing most of you have had some experiences that relate to the examples I’ve just given. But let me make something abundantly clear: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking shortcuts if those shortcuts don’t interfere with the end result or at least don’t put that end result at risk of blowing up in your face. An example? Outsourcing. In my own business, there’s a lot of work I don’t do. I hand it off to others. For me personally, that’s a shortcut. But it’s not a shortcut with regards to what needs to be done in my business. Each process is still tended to in the same methodic way. It’s just not done by me only. Look at McDonald’s. Their process for the making of fast food is the ultimate shortcut, but they’re not disregarding any detail. They’re just making it more efficient. Efficiency and shortcuts are very different. Always remember that. And always remember that doing it right and sticking to the right plan will always yield the best long-term results.