One of the reasons I love long car drives is because I consider it my time to indulge in podcasts. My favorite podcast, which I’ve mentioned before, is The Tim Ferriss Show. You may (or may not) have heard of Tim Ferriss from his New York Times Bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek. In the podcast, Tim interviews really interesting and really successful people and the conversations can last over 2 hours. As someone who always wishes I could be a fly on the wall for conversations between interesting people, I couldn’t ask for a better way to pass my time while driving anywhere that’s going to take me longer than 2 hours.
This past weekend, I happened to be taking one of those 2+ hour trips and listened to a recent episode featuring Seth Godin, another one of my favorite modern-day big thinkers. If you’ve never heard of Seth Godin, he’s basically worshipped as a marketing God BUT his ideas are often provocative and against the grain of the way things are in traditional marketing/publishing spheres, which makes him that much cooler.
In this episode someone asked a question about the best marketing strategy or technique (to be honest I don’t remember the exact question), and Seth Godin’s answer was so great that only a marketing/yoga/business geek like myself could get super excited about it while driving through mountainous Maryland.
Why was his answer so great? Because his answer was one of those answers that is a yoga lesson in disguise. I love when smart people share yoga lessons in disguise. It then becomes my job to share the lesson and it’s yogic application with YOU!
The yoga lesson in disguise
Seth (we’re not on first-name terms, but since this is my blog and I get to choose my own editorial standards, I like to keep things casual…) advocated what he calls taking the longcut. You know how all you ever click on these days are headlines that promise the “10 Best Secrets To Your Best Health” or “5 Ways To Do Your Laundry Better, Faster, Stronger?” We live in a hack-culture these days where people spend way too much time trying to figure out how to spend less time doing the things we have to do every day anyway. As time is 0ur most valuable asset, humankind sets out to find ways to use time as efficiently as possible, which means taking as many shortcuts to get more done quicker.
One of the reasons I left marketing as my full-time job was because I CAN NOT STAND all the hype on hacking. If you take a moment and really think about it, who wants to spend their time hacking their way through life? It sounds painful.
Instead, Seth offers the alternative of taking the longcut. Forget about short. The only work worth sharing and caring about most likely took a long-ass time to think about, talk about, put down on paper, collaborate, coordinate, publish and market. There is no shortcut to greatness and mastery. There is only the longcut.
Yoga is the longcut
Now, I’ll admit, as a card-carrying member of the Millenial generation, there have been a few years here in the recent past when I didn’t want to believe that it’s just going to take a long time for pretty much everything that really matters to unfold. But I’m also proud to say now that while I still don’t always want to admit this is the truth, I much better appreciate the wisdom in the longcut.
So please do me a favor and never click on a headline titled “5 Hacks To A Better Yoga Practice.” There is no such thing and that author is lying to you. If I have an article with such a headline please email me and let me know and tell me that I’m a liar and I need to go back and tell the truth. Seriously. You CAN NOT hack your way through yoga. You can only take your time.
Because Yoga says so
Let’s take a looksie at the Yoga Sutras, my favorite little companion and authority on all things yoga.
Sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevito dridhabhumih
Or, in English (my own emphasis added)…
“When practice is done for A LONG TIME, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable and solid foundation.”
Greatness in anything never comes quickly. It comes after hard work and countless HOURS of practice.
Coincidentally, I also happened to listen to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell of Outliers fame during this same car ride. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule that proposes it takes roughly 10,000 hours to truly master something.
10,000 hours. That’s a lot of freaking hours.
If time is the most valuable asset you have, then what you really want to have mastery over is how to manage your time. But even this whole time management thing gets a bit buzzwordy and cliche. Time management in reality is mastery over the skill of discernment. If you can discern where best to spend your time then you win in the game of life.
And you know what. Developing the skill of discernment is really tough.
Sutra 2.26 says:
“Viveka khyatir aviplava hanopayah”
Or, in English:
“The means of freedom is discernment.”
To be truly free we must learn how to discern what our values are and what actions are appropriate based on our value system. Forget about 10,000 hours…that skill alone can take LIFETIMES to understand, apply, and master.
Trust the wisdom of the wisest
Who are the wisest? Anyone and everyone who has come before us. Throughout the course of history sage advice has been disseminated in pithy phrases originating from all walks of life across the history of our world to remind us of this universal truth of the longcut; the paradox of human life is that the process of growing up entices us to disbelieve and try our own way instead. Pursuing the mystique of bucking the trend and cracking the code is deceivingly advertised as the “easier” way when in reality it only encourages us to waste time fumbling around to learn the hard way. The longcut always works but we become infatuated with the shortcut to achieve the same results quicker. Somehow, the shortcut always falls short.
Quality over quantity. Slow and steady wins the race. Haste makes waste.
The longcut is not popular because it is not sexy. It is dirty and emotional and hard and boring. It does not make for a great story until years down the road when all the sudden things start to work out and everyone wonders where this overnight sensation came from. Overnight sensation is an oxymoron. Just ask every overnight sensation about the 10 years previous to that one fortuitous night.
The sooner we can appreciate the longcut a la Seth Godin, the quicker we can come to taste the nectar of yoga and life and the sooner we can bask in purity, happiness, and ease.
What yoga teaches us about the longcut
And now for the ultimate paradox. The practice of yoga itself helps us appreciate the lessons of the longcut.
Showing up on the mat every day develops discipline.
Letting go of the goal forces us to place trust in the process.
Studying the unsexy parts of the practice furthers our mastery over the parts of the practice we love.
Studying the Sutras and the complex books of the wisest of the wise reminds us how useful simplicity can be.
Stepping into the fire gives us permission to let go of certainty.
Facing our fears in handstand makes us stronger.
Falling on our face in crow over and over and over again until we LAND IT!!! (even though we’re flying 😉 gives us confidence.
The tricks and shortcuts are fun, but they don’t lead to freedom.
Take the longcut and you shall be rewarded with the greatest lesson of all: wisdom.
Apply that wisdom with discernment and what more can you ask for?
Trust that everything will fall into place.
Take the longcut.
And when you doubt that the longcut will work out, get on your mat and remember what really matters.
Sutra translation inspired by Swami Jnaneshvara, Maryam Ovissi, and Jafar Alexander.