Tough choices make merit sweeter

By Blair Wilson

Merit is the basis of earned accomplishment. One works hard toward a goal and when he achieves it he should merit any benefit of this achievement. It is right that anyone who achieves success in an endeavour, having worked hard in a disciplined fashion, according to appropriate moral, ethical and regulatory guidelines, has earned these benefits. However, simply working hard to achieve a goal is not always sufficient to merit these desired benefits. Choices are also part of the process. There are always short cuts that may be taken, corners that may be cut; the easy way out is often an attractive alternative to proper hard work. As we have all seen, the depth of a successful endeavour or strength of a well-constructed project, is reliant on its plan, its materials and how the materials were put in their place. Simply put, the “how” part of the process is just as important as the plan and the materials.

In theory, it is easy to adhere to a multi-beneficial ‘how’ so that no corners are cut and no individuals are inconvenienced (or worse). Given the choice, it would be expected that most people would choose a process that achieved a goal (and they received the benefits) by way of a process that smoothly progressed from beginning to end. In practice, it is rarely easy to adhere to a multi-beneficial ‘how’. The world is fast-moving and the majority of industries demand faster results, not to mention the media, which delivers dizzying information flow. Oftentimes it feels as though we are encouraged to focus more on results rather than the process by which we achieve them.

It isn’t meant to be that way. It is likely that prior generations had similar feelings about the intensity of demands on their time. It is, however, part of competitive environments — whether in sports, business or any other life experience. In the short term, there are usually a high number of successful results or projects that come to fruition in any given field. There are those that merit this level of success and those that do not. Time is the ultimate awarder of merit though. To me, it always seems to be that those results that stand the test of time have been achieved through a carefully thought out plan, the use of proper materials and hard work executed according to appropriate ethical, moral and regulatory guidelines. This isn’t to say that the results were easily or smoothly achieved. Hard decisions will always have to be made. Those who achieved these long standing successful results have, in all likelihood, made many difficult choices and merit the benefits. So: you’ll know when you merit what you have.

Blair Wilson (UCC ’89) is married with two young children and lives in Toronto. He enjoys skiing, swimming and generally being outdoors with his family. He has spent the last 19 years in the investment industry and is a Wealth Advisor with BMO Nesbitt Burns. 

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