Ok I’m not picking on Staple’s clever marketing gimmick. Well, maybe a little bit. But I think we spend too much time looking for easy solutions to complex problems. I think the easy path in many cases is the wrong path.
Quite honestly I have spent a majority of my life taking the path of least resistance which is not bad necessarily but I think it has robbed me of opportunity for growth and change. Malcolm Gladwell in his new book David and Goliath dedicated a chapter to the idea of “desirable difficulties”. The idea seems perpendicular to what many Americans seek out especially me! But the concept of desirable difficulties, as presented by Gladwell, open up a whole new way to consider challenges, perceived or real limitations or other handicap.
For example, I went to college with a guy that was born without his forearm. He had his bicep, elbow and a short stub about two inches long. I was in awe that he could move boxes, use a shovel, and complete the same tasks I could. He adapted his limitation to not only keep up with but exceed his coworkers (me). In addition to the physical adaptation he had to make, I wonder what mental adaptations he had to increase giving him mental skills that would help him succeed beyond his peers? Because he grew up “not normal”, I wonder what behaviors he created and practiced as a child that later became great assets? What is seen as a limitation, a missing forearm, is no limitation at all. Quite possibly his later success would be not be in spite of, but because of, the missing forearm.
Regrettably he and I (I can’t even remember his name) were not close and we both went our separate ways. Perhaps he is a giant couch potato, perhaps a mogul in his chosen field. Who knows?
I may sound like I criticize myself in the second paragraph for usually seeking the path of least resistance. Frankly, if there is an easier smarter way I want it. I tell my kids it is because I am lazy and don’t want to work. Which is true but is it? Is my innate ability to seek out an easier path a limitation or a desired difficulty?
I have been making high end luxury models for customers across the globe for a year now. Hand made parts are common and a very time consuming way to produce items for people. Frustrated at the monumental amount of time I was spending making redundant items I would often say “this is stupid, there has to be an easier way to do this!” This led me to 3D printing, which was the equivalent of heaven’s gates opening up to hear angels sing. Not quite a spiritual awakening but a revelation none the less. Overnight life became a bit easier…in theory. 3D printing has been a learning curve with many phone calls to Circle C Farm Toys comparing notes, challenges, hundreds of dollars spent and more than one occasion me being ready to quit.
For years I spent time crafting work arounds or ways of doing hard work without having to do hard work. All those times looking for new ways to solve problems was not the easiest way to accomplish what I wanted to do. Quite often it was exactly opposite.
Previously I thought my notion to seek out the easy ways was a limitation. But now I see it as a great asset. Looking for new ways to solve problems has lead me to look outside of normal ways of accomplishing tasks such as hiring a book keeper via oDesk.com. Buying Intros to videos at fiverr.com, working in 3D printing, have parts laser cut by other companies. None of that has been “easy” as one would normally understand it. Rather, it has been time consuming, challenging, has totally challenged my ability to see projects through and stick with them. It has been a long hard road to follow, but it has been worth it!
And to think, it all started because I was looking for the easy way.