Let me start by telling you that I have found the secret to
success is not a 20 step process. It's not even a ten-step journey.
No, not even seven steps to success. It's three steps.
Seriously. After all this time and experience I've stumbled upon
the secret to success, and it is a three step process! That's it,
just three. And it's not going to be a secret for long. But before
you get overly excited it's not a shortcut, nor is it a silver
bullet. But it is a simple three step process.
Why are there No Shortcuts?
As I look back on my life, I finally begin to see a
You see, if you looked at my CV (resume for those of you
preferring American English), it's rather difficult to make sense
of all the, rather odd, directions my career appears to have
If you already know me, then you almost certainly know that my
first career was as a chef. Well, perhaps the term ‘chef' is a
little grand for my first real job that was frying eggs and bacon,
peeling potatoes, washing pots and scrubbing floors.
I did, later train as a commis chef, became a sous chef and
became a head chef. I also did my stints behind the bar and waiting
in the restaurant.
You see, while I had some abilities in cooking, no one was going
to allow me to run a kitchen until I understood what was happening
in all parts of the kitchen, and to know my diners.
I went to University to study hotel management because now I
wanted more than a kitchen. I loved being front of house as well. I
enjoyed running back of house too. My industrial placement, which
today would be Americanised into an internship, exposed me to the
delights of housekeeping and cleaning rooms after an Irish stag
weekend. And many other delightful and disgusting moments.
I presided over a disastrous lunch for 3500 militant unionists
at their conference that, due to my lack of leadership, was served
lukewarm and two hours late. Used the wrong extinguisher on a fryer
fire to the amusement of everyone who did not lose their eyebrows.
I even managed to spill soup on the lap of a kindly Royal
If you speak to anyone in the hotel business, they too can
regale you with stories of exhaustion, disasters, drunkards and
learning. Yes, learning.
But there are those who insist that it
has to be easier than this.
Then I'll meet a young manager in another industry. They got
themselves a degree in business, for example, and they get an
Associate Director title or a Vice President title. It's an entry
level position but with a fancy name and a pretty fancy salary.
They expect to be in a managerial role within a year or two and
want to know what they need to know to get there as fast as
The expensive shortcut that isnât
Many have embarked on an MBA, and having spent a small fortune
on their education, want to know why they havenât gotten to be a
senior manager yet.
People are signing up for courses that promise instant results
even though they've been burnt more than once already.
I've fallen victim to this thinking myself on many more
occasions that I like to admit.
I cast an envious eye on someone else's success and think that
if only I can emulate them, I too will have that instant
Of course, it's nonsense.
You know that it is nonsense. You too have found out that there
are no shortcuts. Or at least, according to Maya Angelou,
there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
So now, I look back and think, if only I had cut across the
meandering path of my career. There are some useful diversions but
many useless ones.
And ultimately, had I known that I was coming this way, I could
easily have cut across.
The trouble is, of course, that we donât know which direction is
the real shortcut.
If I had known that I would essentially end up teaching, writing
and recording audio, I should really have taken a course in
journalism or teaching. Or both, just to be sure.
But then my Godfather did ask me some 40 years ago what I wanted
to do with my life as he watched me scrub the floor of the cafÃ©'s
kitchen. Then, I wanted the shortcut to having a clean floor
without actually putting in any effortâ¦
I wrote the book
When I wrote my leadership field guide: “What's Better Today?” I
set out to be different from all the other leadership instant
success books out there. I even wrote on the cover as a warning
“There are no silver bullets; no quick and easy solutions; it will
not happen overnight.”
It's one of the very few times I actually agree with the Iron
Lady: “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard
work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top,
but should get you pretty near.” — Margaret Thatcher
Hurry up already, what are the three
The world is an impatient place I know, and you are keen to find
- deciding what you want from life and
- choosing that you are going to work for it every day
- And every day you keep on keeping on
If youâre disappointed, youâre not alone.
And if youâre young and hungry, the chances are pretty high that
youâre going to forget this for a while and seek a much nicer
answer and some other magic formula. But that's the thing, this IS
the magic formula. It's no shortcut. It's no silver bullet; it's
As George Bernard Shaw said:
“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up
and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they canât find
them, make them.”