“Short cuts make long delays.”
J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

I am as a big a fan of a good shortcut as the next person. Every day in life we are faced with opportunities to look for shortcuts. How do we get those cows moved quicker, get to that meeting faster, or pick the quickest line at the Border Patrol checkpoint. I know I am not alone in my pursuit of that shortcut. Did you know that the popular P90X Fitness program started out as an hour-long workout? Partly in response to loss of market share (my own unsubstantiated presumption), a new version, P90X3, was introduced in 2013 that featured 30 minute workouts to get the same results. Just the other evening, I saw a competitor had a fitness program that would deliver results in just 25 minutes! This reminds me of the popular 12 minute ab workouts that evolved into the 8 minute ab videos of the 1990’s. Someone probably left a lot of money on the table by not releasing 7 minute abs. Sometimes these shortcuts can work, but I am slowly becoming convinced that there are really no good shortcuts in existence.

At the Santa Fe Ranch, we have just started the calving season for our first calf heifers. We try to calve them a month to 6 weeks before the majority of cows so that they have time to recover and will breed with the main cow herd for their second calf. All of the heifers are artificially inseminated (AI) and much planning goes into these matings. We also AI a small percentage of our cow herd. These confirmed AI pregnancies are the most anticipated calves every year when we get to see if the genetic match-ups produce the desired calves. Despite all of the wonderful advances in production agriculture, it takes about 281 days for these little bulls and heifers to arrive. Alas, not a shortcut in sight.

Last summer we had a fantastic opportunity to work with Borderlands Restoration and their high school youth program. We installed erosion control structures in a wash that was at risk for eroding an important field on the Santa Fe Ranch. If you want to talk about an ecological process that has no shortcuts (that work), look at erosion control. We did have remarkable stabilization of soil and actually built up a little sediment behind our structures. I am afraid that the majority of students who worked on the project will be away at college before we see significant, measureable results. No shortcuts here either.

I am currently challenging myself to learn a skill that I am not naturally gifted at. I have “faked” it for several years but now it is time to “put up or shut up” and become proficient. My mentor has provided incredible support in the form of professional education, training and other opportunities. To truly become competent is going to take a lot of practice and dedication. Hopefully, my mentor has patience as this process unfolds. More importantly, I need to dedicate time to practice and become better. Have you ever found yourself in this position? What have you challenged yourself to do that you have always wanted to do? While I am sure that an auctioneer chant comes naturally for some, it is proving to be a great challenge for me. No shortcut to be found here.

Last week I had the chance to meet a daughter and son of one of my favorite people. Because of the relatively long geographical distance between us, I have never met any of his five children. What a delight these young people were to meet in person, even though I felt like I knew them through their father and mother. The daughter was brilliant, charming, optimistic, and truly embodied what every parent wishes their daughters to become. Their son was extremely well mannered, charismatic, hard-working, and enthusiastic, with a bit of 15 year old mischief to boot. At one point, the son was asked to ride a horse and participate in a demonstration of stockmanship without any forewarning. He immediately hunkered down, jumped on a horse he didn’t know and did an outstanding job in front of a large crowd without fear. All of those characteristics I described came directly from great parenting and role models. I am sure they didn’t happen overnight either.

Shortcuts in our relationships with others is probably where we can falter the most. I believe that our attention span is decreasing as technology increases. Most internet users spend less than one minute on a web page (BBC News, 2002) and we need to capture our thoughts in 140 characters or less. How many times have you been in conversation with someone and they are checking their Facebook, Twitter or texts while interacting with you? It would be extremely hypocritical (and ironic) of me to ridicule the digital world while posting a blog that will be shared on Facebook and Twitter. There are many ways in which the digital age has increased the availability of knowledge for everyone and leveled the playing field. I just hope we don’t lose sight of the importance of face to face interaction and developing personal relationships.

Until I find that shortcut, I’m off to practice. One dollar bidder, now two,…

“Every shortcut has a price usually greater than the reward.”

Bryant McGillSimple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life