Cheat Your Way to the Top

"As adults, we need to model discipline to the next generation."

Lady Aberline finished the thirty-two-mile trek through the Forgotten Forest, reaching the foothills of Samaritan Mountain, just a few hours before nightfall. The svelte, but muscular, woman was accompanied by three men. These were hirelings, young and able-bodied. They were scouts and warriors of the woodland. Their chief was one of Lady Aberline’s good friends. To guide her way, and to ensure her safety, he commanded these three young men to protect her at all costs. Initially, Lady Aberline declined her friend’s generosity. She indicated that her journey was to be kept a secret, and that her safety would be assured. But the chief would have none of that. He gave clear and specific orders to his men and sent them off on their expedition.

The Lady's Journey

“…Lady Aberline focused her mental and physical energies on the task that awaited her.”

As was custom on this journey, when the Lady ordered them to stop for the evening, she walked away and spent time in solitude while her companions set up camp. Before the darkness encircled them, a fire was burning warm amid four separate bivouac shelters. The men often thought that a woman of her rank would require more for a sleeping arrangement, but she insisted that the less they carried, the better it would be for all of them. In addition, the trip was to be made on foot, with no unnecessary burdens. This meant no animals. Everything they carried was on their backs, and their weapons were always at the ready. To the men’s chagrin, the Lady was the only one of the four without a weapon. She was a strange companion indeed, and her actions often made little sense to the men-for-hire. Still, they complied, and made the area as comfortable as possible.

During her times of meditation, Lady Aberline focused her mental and physical energies on the task that awaited her. One of the men always insisted on being near her as she spent time in meditation, if only for her safety. After the second day of their journey, she gave up her resistance to this matter knowing that her friend, the Chief, ordered such a thing. The men were not about to dishonor the chief or do anything that might cause harm to the Lady. She knew better than to confuse her frustrate her companions, especially since they were only following orders. They were local to the area and knew the inhabitants better than she. Still, Lady Aberline insisted that she would be safe during her times of solitude. And indeed, she had been, despite the ever-watching eyes of the local animals and other inhabitants in these parts.

Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武 ) from Pixabay
Image by Yuri_B from Pixabay

The Last Night

“It was their duty to follow orders.”

This was the last night of their journey together. In the morning, Lady Aberline planned to make the trip up the mountain on her own. Despite repeated protests, she reassured them of her safety. How could this be, they relied. This is an unbelievably bad place. Even now we are not safe. “We are safe,” she replied. “For now, we are safe. And you will be safe on the way back.” With this, the three men looked perplexed. They were willing to follow the orders of their superior and bring this woman to this accursed place – for reasons unknown to them. But they expected to bring her back again, safely. It was their duty to follow orders. What would their chief think if they returned and the woman was not with them?

You will all be rewarded handsomely upon your return to the Chief,” she said. “I have left a generous reward for your hard work there with him. He knows not to expect me back; at least not now. Tomorrow, I must fulfill my destiny and seek that which I have desired for so long. I will reach the summit tomorrow and fulfill my purpose!

Warlock Archetype

“…the Warlock makes a pact with a greater being.”

Cheating your way to the top. In this article, I look at the Warlock character class. In the world of fantasy and fiction, the Warlock archetype is the prime example of someone willing to sacrifice everything to achieve a single goal. In their personal quest for power, the Warlock makes a pact with a greater being. Often, the other-worldly creature is evil and is willing to bestow upon the mortal the magical powers that he or she so greedily pursues.

This storyline is embedded in our culture. Consider Phantom of the Opera. Or, if rock music is more your taste, think Bohemian Rhapsody. These are only two of a long list of examples in which a character seeks something by making a pact with another being. Often, the person who makes the pact is given the powers he or she desires. But these powers are usually short-lived. In the end, the repayment for power is one’s own life.

Image by ALİKEMAL KUDU from Pixabay

I think this is a matter of integrity. I also think this involves a discussion on personal character. For example, one person can study for hours – even days and weeks – to pass an examination. Yet, another person can buy the answers and achieve the same result. In another example, one person can practice for years – honing the skills necessary to do a job. Another person can buy his or her way into that same job. Does it matter how you achieve the result? Or should we only be concerned that the goal was attained?

Image by Parker_West from Pixabay

Discipline, Diligence, and Direction

“…has more value than cheating your way to a goal.”

Earning something through discipline, diligence, direction, time, and practice has more value than cheating your way to a goal. Is this an opinion or fact? A person will study for many years, then spend several more years in residency, before earning the title of medical doctor. An Olympic athlete will start from a young age, forego social relationships, maintain a strict diet, and comply with a strict exercise regimen just for an attempt to achieve a gold medal. The outcome is earned, not given.

Discipline, diligence, and direction.

As adults, we need to model discipline to the next generation. Historically, ‘discipline’ has had a bad reputation because the word is often used in association with punishment. However, I learned that discipline is a form of self-control. For example, my daily routine includes waking early for a six-mile run. This is personal discipline. No outside force will punish me for not waking early. I have control over my own thoughts and actions. I know what I need to do to achieve my goal.

As adults, we need to model diligence to the next generation. I use the word ‘diligence’ often as a specific substitute for other words. I like diligence. Diligence means being persistent. When talking to students, I do not tell them to work hard. I tell them to be diligent. Nothing worth anything will be achieved overnight. You must apply consistent and direct effort to learn how to do something well.

As adults, we need to model direction. By direction, I mean path. Once we set a goal, we need to create a path to get there. In leadership, we often associate direction with the process of goal setting. I like goal setting. I often use the SMART acronym. The SMART acronym is always relevant. What do you want to achieve? Use this to guide your steps: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

This is a good start to the conversation. More to come!

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