There are no hacks, only hackers

Our shortcuts leave us short-circuited.

BY ROY HARRYMAN

There are many definitions of the noun "hack," but a contemporary meaning has sprung to the top of our vocabulary.
 
Although this definition does not yet appear in Merriam-Webster's, the concept of a "hack" as a shortcut or easy way around difficulty is popular. Wikipedia says, "Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life."
 
While there may be a few tips and tricks that are worth employing, the ugly fact is that there are no hacks for things that matter. This unfortunate truth applies to work, relationships, health ... you name it.
 
Let's start with health. I remember walking past the pharmacy a few years ago and passing a product called "Exercise in a Bottle." Does more need to be said?
 
Friendships, business relationships and romances are built on sustained trust. There simply is no shortcut. Our true intentions and character are exposed over the long haul.
 
As I help clients with marketing communications, this concept of hacking comes up often: "Someone wants to sell me a million e-mail addresses. Isn't that great!" 
 
This is also true of the sometimes arcane topic of SEO (search engine optimization). Many people are looking for "hacks," tips and tricks to fool Google into finding their website. This doesn't work. It may do the opposite.
 
Google wants a long-term relationship with your website. It wants to know that you provide consistent, valued content. That you are not a fly-by-night scam. It wants the same things your friends and family want from you: trust, dependability, reliability.
 
Although there are no real hacks, there are an abundance of hackers. Beware! These are the buffoons who ruin each form of media as soon as it comes on the scene: spam e-mailers, Facebook product bombardiers and agencies that create fake Twitter accounts to inflate social media influence.
 
To the client, these tactics are like saccharine-sweetened soda. It effervesces on the way down, but the aftertaste is bitter and empty.
 
If you want to improve your health, your relationships and your business, there simply are no hacks. You have to work at it, day in and day out. Behind the scenes. When no one's watching.
 
Malcom Gladwell made a splash when he wrote that the best of the best spent 10,000 hours practicing before they broke through.
 
Give up the quest for hacks. Roll up your sleeves and start logging your 10,000.
 
The best is yet to come.