Take the Stairs

Take the Stairs

In preparation for this weekend’s China Nationals, I was talking with some of the students who are competing. We reminisced a bit about their first course at LearningLeaders: Advanced Debate. They really wanted to enter directly into the Elite Program, though at the time we thought it would be best for them to start in Advanced, build up confidence by being a more competitive speaker in that course, build the rudiments and fundamentals, and then move to Elite the following semester.

These students became World Champions last year - I know hindsight is always 20/20, but not rushing into Elite in their first semester appears to have worked out alright for them.

This week when they asked me why they couldn’t go to Elite originally, I shared with them, “Sometimes you just gotta take the stairs.” I my own experience, the sweetest victories and proudest moments haven’t come from anything that was given to me, but something I worked hard to achieve. I’m speaking of anything worthwhile, not merely trophies or accolades or ‘success,’ however you want to define it. I have a feeling many reading this have a similar set of experiences.

The value of something is what we are willing to sacrifice to get it.

Step by step the puzzle pieces are put into place. Rarely does it happen that the puzzle pieces are shaken out on the floor and they are all magically arranged perfectly and linked together. You have to link them together, piece by piece. It takes time.

Many of us love instant gratification like food delivery services or Didi and Uber or one week juice cleanses or 15-minute book summaries. They’re great for speed. That’s no question. But if you never cook, you’ll never know the process of making a great meal. If you never walk or bike in the streets, you’ll never know the ins and outs of your city. If you never eat healthy over the long run, you’ll never achieve the fitness or health you desire. If you never read the original text, you’ll never understand the writer’s nuance.

There are always trade-offs that we consciously or unconsciously make by prioritizing speed in the short term over quality in the long term. It’s not bad. It’s not good. We just need to be clear about the trade-offs we’re making.

Sometimes you just gotta take the stairs.