Ed, Jack & The Right Way to Do Things

My outstanding business and life mentor when I was growing up in Wisconsin was Edward Prohaska.  Ed started his career as a high school science teacher, but realized his self-determination and drive compelled him to become a land development entrepreneur.  Ed started with a shovel and a wheelbarrow and turned it into a wildly successful business. Ed had an iron-clad work ethic, and he showered me with affirmations about hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and making good choices.

One day I was trying to take a shortcut while completing a task on a jobsite.  Ed was driving a piece of earth-moving equipment when he witnessed me trying to cut a corner on my work. He slammed on the breaks, jumped down from the machine, jogged across a field, tore the shovel from my hand, and pointed his index finger to the work in front of me, looked me directly in the eyes and yelled, “There are no shortcuts to good decisions. There is only ONE right way to do things and that is the RIGHT WAY!”

He caught me trying to do something the EASY WAY, rather than the RIGHT WAY.  And, he knew that I knew better.  That intervention and his prophetic words still jump into my head every time I am confronted with a decision, especially those where the easier road is so incredibly tempting. I’m duty-bound to first ask what is the right way and use that as the basis for my decision, even if it requires a longer or more painful process as a result.

The more that you positively reinforce the ‘RIGHT WAY’ behavior, the more it because part of your autonomic system.  You no longer deliberate whether there is a shortcut or negative consequences, but rather you react automatically based on this innate sense of what is the RIGHT WAY. This behavior, whether you call it good judgement or otherwise, becomes knee-jerk.  
To best represent an example of this, watch the following video of Jack Sock playing Leighton Hewitt in a tennis match.  Jack doesn’t stop to think, he merely reacts.  The RIGHT WAY has become part of his character and he thin-sliced his decision to speak up in less than a second.  For Jack, there was no other choice than the RIGHT WAY.