Making a Case For The Path Less Travelled

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“Nothing in this life comes easy.”

I am not sure who came up with this statement but it has received a lot of airplay in my life.

Whether it is my father encouraging me to study for my SATs or my personal trainer trying to egg me on to finish my last set of pull ups, I am always reminded that results take effort. This got me thinking about things that actually do come quite easily.

If the earlier examples are anything to go by, I could cheat on my SATs (maybe), and ace them pretty easy (really, don’t try this). In the case of my personal trainer, steroids would bulk me up just as well, or even better, than a few pull ups could.

In life, every man is faced with a decisional crossroads where he has to determine which path to follow; the easy way out or the path of most resistance.

More often than not, the human mind is conditioned to go for the simpler alternative, despite potential consequences. Accomplishing a task with minimal fuss and effort seems like a good deal on the surface of it.

However, if and when you decide to take the path less travelled, you come to realize that there is a lot to learn through overcoming a few bumps and bruises.

Honing Your Skills

Whenever we are faced with a challenge that we eventually overcome, we come out better than when we went in. Take marathon runners as an example.

During their training, seasoned athletes often scour the globe looking for high altitude areas to adapt their cardio. In case you don’t know this, running in high altitude limits your oxygen supply, making it exponentially tougher to run a mile, let alone an entire marathon.

The challenge this offers competitive runners enables them to adapt to situations even worse than what they’ll face on race day, making the race that counts easier than what they’ve already faced before.

Although you might not be planing to running a marathon anytime soon, there is a lesson that can be learnt from this. Any challenges you regularly face in your day to day life can be made easier by going beyond them, by actively seeking out the hard road.

Reverting back to the high school example, I’m thinking back to when I was selecting the courses for my senior year.

Whereas I went for the easy way out, some friends of mine decided to take up challenging subjects such as Advanced Chemistry and Calculus. At the time, I thought they were crazy for picking such difficult subjects.

A few years later, in college, they were breezing through their classes while I was struggling to grasp anything.

The skills they picked up in their AP classes enabled them to take on college level content while I was stuck with sleepless nights trying to get a grip on my new studies.

This is not to say all high school kids should pick advanced classes, but it sure made college a lot easier for some of my friends.

The hard road now, can make life easier later on.

Competitive Advantage

Just as there are often multiple ways to accomplish a task, there are often multiple types of people that face the same problem.

Whereas the weak always settle for shortcuts, the strong tough it out, often accomplishing better results.

This is evident in most modern day workplaces where employers often take note of their employees that have the ability to work through whatever they throw at them.

If Steve from accounting decides to work overtime in order to meet his deadline while all you do is keep asking for an extension so you can go home and binge watch Netflix, I hope you don’t expect the next promotion.

We live in a dog eat dog world where only those who show strength will get ahead.

So if you let Steve soak up all the credit for taking the path with most resistance, you only have yourself to blame if you’re still a low level intern in five years time.

Big Risk, Big Reward

You always tend to reap what you sow.

You cannot do the bare minimum and expect a huge bounty for your rewards, yet this is what people expect. It’s delusional.

Big rewards tend to conceal themselves behind the path of most resistance. It’s the best hiding spot, no one takes that path. It is as if the world dangles a juicy carrot at the end of a treacherous road and waits to see who is determined enough to get to it.

In my experience, most people will accept smaller returns for the easy way out, but, if you plan on being successful, you’ll have to respond differently.

Seeing as we are talking about reaping and sowing, we can consider two farmers.

Both have an equal amount of land and similar resources. However, one chooses to till only half of his land while his counterpart sweats it out to ensure his entire portion is in use.

When harvest comes round, the lazy farmer might have enough to live on, but the farmer who worked hard will have excess to sell to invest in more land and maybe even some staff for the next harvest. This is how some advance further in life, while some stay stuck where they are.

It may be challenging to go the extra mile and persevere through the challenges we face, but, when it is all said and done, isn’t the journey worth the reward?

Untapped Potential

A lot of businesses find their edge by finding a way to simplify service delivery, setting themselves apart from the competition.

Take Netflix for example. Back in the day, Blockbuster was the king of the industry. A titan that could not be taken down. But then technology improved and streaming became possible. One company saw the opportunity to make delivery easier, no more trips to the store, the other saw progress as the enemy of business and refused to adapt.

Though the naysayers may have told Netflix that they could not take down a giant, or that doing so could take years, did they listen? No.

Many people refuse to take such risks despite seeing clear opportunity, due to the difficult road ahead if they set on the journey. But isn’t that sad? How much potential is untapped, thanks to the easier paths around us.

What if Netflix did this? How many Netflix original series would we have missed out on?

In essence, all I’m trying to say is that when faced with the opportunity, don’t waste it. Realize that the hard path, despite its challenges, is what drives us and the world forward.

It may seem daunting, or a waste of time, but eventually, the results may speak for themselves.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Netflix.

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