Walk a Straight Line to High Achievement

by Stephen Mills on March 4, 2009

Walk a straight line to success

Do you ever notice how the most simple ideas are often the most profound?  In our tendency to make things complicated, we often completely miss the the obvious.  That is probably due to our tendency to believe it couldn’t be that simple and thus our minds simply ignore those obvious answers.

Mark Joyner’s Simpleology – The Simple Science of Getting What You Want teaches what he calls “The Law of Straight Lines – the shortest path between two points is a straight line”.  The idea is that if you want to achieve a particular result, you need to follow the shortest path between where you are now and where you want to end up – walk a straight line to your target while maintaining a laser-like focus on that target.  You should follow the simplest and most direct route to that target.  You shouldn’t add any extra steps because those extra steps will delay your arrival at your destination.

Mark draws a beautiful example with a woman on a scale at one end who is “shocked” at her weight.  He then draws a straight line through various healthy foods, exercises, etc. until she gets to a beautiful body on a beach.  He contrasts that with same starting point, but this time the line loops around and around through various fattening deserts before arriving at the same beautiful body on the beach.

Even if the woman arrives at the same destination eventually, her route was many times longer.  The deserts were the extra steps that either delayed or more likely would have completely derailed her from reaching her chosen destination.  My first reaction to this was “Of course” and “That’s obvious”.  But as I thought about my own situation, I realized that I was adding tons of small and unnecessary detours to my paths to my targets.  Many times these extra steps, like the sugary deserts, would completely destroy my ability to achieve my chosen results.

This simple idea is truly profound.  It can be applied to almost anything including your thinking!  I have applied it to my own life and work and have realized tremendous benefit.  I couldn’t believe the number of steps I have been able to cut out of almost everything I do.  It is so obvious and yet I so ignored it.  If you will examine your own processes or the paths you are taking to your chosen targets in light of this principle, I believe you too will realize the same tremendously positive results.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Bungartz March 5, 2009 at 8:12 am


I am so guilty of adding extra steps to what should be a simple process or task. Perhaps it’s partially the perfectionist in me or plain failure to stay on that straight line. I think that the concept of the 80/20 principle also comes into play here with the 20% being the straight line. I find myself guilty of working hard on the 80% and straying from the straight line and shortest path. Great Post.

Regards, Michael


Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 5, 2009 at 10:34 am

Michael, I too have struggled with perfectionist tendencies. Your insight on the 80/20 rule is spot on. I’m guilty of forgetting that rule often even though I have explicitly identified it as a guiding principle. It’s hard to change those habits.


Happiness Is Better March 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Great article Stephen! Some people, and I’m sure I am guilty, may add extra steps so they have an excuse not to do something. For example, “there’s too much involved in setting up a blog.” Both you and I know that is a bunch of baloney, but I told myself this for a while prior to starting my blog. Within that for me, as Michael mentioned, I added steps because I wanted everything to be perfect. What my blog or will it ever be perfect, no, but at least I’m putting myself out there.


Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

@Happiness Is Better, most of our “it’s too difficult” is indeed a bunch of baloney. There is always a series of small steps that will get you there and if you “straight line” it, those steps will be just that much simpler. Thanks for commenting.


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