Good Is Hard

Author Scott Alexander wrote, “All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.”

I recently read some articles related to something most of us could very possibly have lived our entire lives without ever knowing. I was attracted to the article, “The Speedrunner Who Wasn’t: How a Community Dealt with an Elaborate Cheater”, because I have always been interested in running and have followed several of the stories of people who have cheated in an attempt to gain fame and fortune, one of the most notorious being Rosie Ruiz who cheated to “win” the Boston marathon. But the article wasn’t about running in that sense.

This was a story about speed running video games, the practice of completing (running) an entire video game quickly, or for speed. This is a very small niche of an already niche world. It gets very little attention and is currently not worth anything of value except bragging rights in this very enclaved community. In this case, the perpetrator used splicing of game footage from several different attempts to make it look like he had completed the game faster than anyone else had ever done it. He cheated to get attention. The result was his expulsion from the very community he wanted the admiration of.

I also followed closely the long running feud between Billy Mitchell and the arcade game community over Billy’s Donkey Kong high score record. If you haven’t watched “King of Kong”, you should. Billy’s scores were finally thrown out last year when it was proven that he had cheated by using an emulator instead of an actual arcade game to set his high scores. Billy was a very talented player and set several really outstanding scores in public on legitimate machines. His emulator scores would have been valid if he had entered them in that category. Instead, he claimed to have done something that he hadn’t, and the final result was a loss of all his records (not just the DK ones) and the respect and trust of the community that was so important to him.

In each of these cases, and many more I could list and link to, there is a common thread. They all took a short cut (easy) to take credit for something that is hard. The respective communities that were impacted saw what they did as evil and treated them accordingly.

Good is hard. Evil is easy.

Cheating will never give the satisfaction and end result that we really want. The short cut might look enticing as it promises to deliver the result without the pain or hard work and delayed gratification, but it is selling a defective product and the buyer’s remorse is severe.

As leaders we have opportunities every day to demonstrate that we are willing to do things the right way, the ethical and legitimate way, rather than taking short cuts. Like training our team members, even though it is costly and time consuming, to ensure they are successful, and our customers receive correct products. Like staying committed to safety and 5S and continuous improvement. Like pay and policies that respect a person’s value and worth. Like staying true to our core values even when it is the harder path.

Good things, individual and corporate, require hard work. My great friend and long-time running partner signs his emails and notes with a quote from a Roman poet:

“Great is the road I climb, but the garland offered by an easier effort is not worth the gathering.”

The things worth gathering in life require significant effort. I often forget that this applies to intangible things to. Relationships, health (mental, spiritual and emotional as well as physical), and having and achieving a vision, all require hard work, dedication and perseverance. There are no short cuts.

I am grateful to be surrounded by people who get it. Our team works hard and doesn’t cheat. We trust each other and the community we live and work in trusts us. This isn’t always the easiest way, but it is the only garland worth gathering and, it is the Kimray Way.