Back in the 90’s, I was obsessed with The Clapper. You know…that device that allows you to turn lights on and off with a simple clap of your hands. “Clap on clap off, the clapper!” I thought how cool it would be to just sit in bed and be able to turn off the lights before bed without getting up. Or being able to walk into a room, and clap quickly to turn on the lights instead of walking ALL the way over to the switch.

And so for Christmas, in 1995, I asked for The Clapper and I got it. And was so excited to plug it in and get to using it that I ran into my room and found the outlet for the light in my room, and plugged it in. I stood back in awe, as though I was conducting an orchestra at The Philharmonic, looked around in silence, and then swiftly clapped two claps, like they did in the commercials.

Then…nothing. Nothing at all happened. “What the hell??” I thought, as I clapped two swift claps again. Nothing, again. So I tried different types of claps, and after about 20 minutes of clapping, I finally found two that worked…slow, cupped hands, clapped at an interval of 1.5 seconds apart. “Geez,” I thought, “this Clapper is temperamental.”

Later that day, I wanted to test out my new boombox that Santa had just brought and so I went into my room to plug it in. It was all ready to go, with my brand new Weezer CD in tow, and I cranked up the volume and hit the play button. And as soon as those first two kick drum beats came on the stereo, my lights started to turn on and off. I couldn’t believe it! The Clapper not only responded to two cupped claps at an interval of 1.5 seconds apart, but it apparently also responded to any noise that was loud enough and basey enough and that was at an interval of 1.5 seconds apart, like my new Weezer CD.

“Well this is inconvenient,” I thought, having the lights come on and off when I played my stereo. This, combined with having to make sure I properly clap everytime I wanted to turn my lights on made me realize that it just wasn’t worth it. That The Clapper, which was supposed to make my life easier, actually made it harder, more complicated, and more annoying. It took me more effort to clap properly than it would have to just get up and turn on the damn light. The temperamental-ness of The Clapper was more of a nuisance than it was a help and I got to think about shortcuts.

There are no real shortcuts in life. When we try to take the easy way out, when we try to do the least that we can do, we never quite get the results we want. And not only that, we prolong the time it takes to actually get what we want. And during that time, we are frustrated or annoyed, trying to spend all this time clapping properly instead of spending the time to just get up and turn on the light. It’s a much better use of our time to do what needs to be done, then it is trying to find the shortcut, since a shortcut always becomes a longer cut in the end.

What in your life have you been shortcutting? And what would be a different approach? Leave a comment below.