Not So Fast, Easy, or Guaranteed

The other day I came across this micro-post by Seth Godin, one of my favorite bloggers:

Fast, easy, guaranteed.
Pick none.
That’s the work worth doing.

Just ten words that say an incredible amount.

He’s playing off, of course, the numerous ways and places that phrase – fast, easy, guaranteed – is used in the world of marketing. To talk about delivery service, or order fulfillment, or completing projects, or whatever. It’s become nearly ubiquitous as a desirable attribute that is intended to grab our attention and secure our business.

But immediately after reminding us of this commonplace, Seth – no I don’t know him, but it seems nicer than addressing him as “Godin” 🙂 – calls it into question. What’s so great about fast, easy, and guaranteed? Or perhaps, more to the point, the most worthwhile work – and things in life more generally – are exactly the opposite: they take a long time, are challenging, and come with no guarantees.

Just a few examples:
building a business;
studying hard to get into a good college;
doing a job beyond the expectations of a supervisor or client;
changing the culture of a congregation, school, or business;
maintaining important relationships…

The list could go on, of course. And that’s just the point. So much of what really matters – what’s really worth giving yourself to – takes a lot of time, hard work, and comes filled with risk. But in a “fast, easy, guaranteed” kind of world, we’re regularly not just tempted but actually encouraged to give up on these kinds of projects and go instead for the quick win.

So if you’re frustrated right now in a project, venture, or relationship, if you’re tired from all the work, or if you wonder how things are going to turn out and if it’s been worth your effort, then maybe it’s time to critically review whether this project or person is worth your investment. But as you do, keep in mind that the most important things in life are rarely fast, easy, or guaranteed.