“People are like lightening…they follow the path of least resistance.” ~Deb Weitzenkamp
You have probably heard me say this before…but I find it just is so true. When working with 4-H families or colleagues, I’ve seen over and over again that there is a lot less following of Robert Frost’s “the road not taken” and a lot more of the “path of least resistance.” I admit, I’ve done this a lot too….it’s just easier to check things off the list if you follow a recipe that you have used before. ….But if your focus is always on checking things off the list, are you missing opportunities to pursue the really deep thought/huge impact opportunities available in Extension.
This weekend my family and I were discussing a “walk about” we took the day before Mother’s Day in May. We had went downtown Nebraska City only to find out that the store we were headed to wasn’t open yet. So, we strolled through several shops downtown as we bided our time. We happened to stop in a quilt shop. In that quilt shop, we were admiring a pieced quilt on display. The pieces of the quilt were exceptionally small, and we were remarking on how difficult that would have been. The owner quickly demonstrated the method that was used for piecing the quilt, and we were in awe of how simple that would make the quilt. My point….we took the road less traveled and happened upon something new that we would have never thought of before. And months later, we were still discussing it! That little stroll had made a huge impact on us….no longer were we thinking about how not to reinvent the wheel (traditional methods of piecing a quilt, and how difficult that technique would be)…instead we were thinking about how we could apply that new technique to lots of non-quilting related projects. We even discussed how a related technique could be applied to the production of resistors. 🙂
Perhaps it’s just human nature to want to follow the familiar, the well memorized method of getting somewhere/finishing some project…but I would challenge us all to rethink that, and just once in a while choose the “road not taken”. If you are not familiar with Robert Frost’s poetry, you can read the poem I’m citing….https://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html . Think about how this applies to the work that we do in Extension. Are we always choosing to “not reinvent the wheel” or are we actively seeking out creative solutions to our problems…seeking out new paths that might reveal even better solutions or opportunities for partnerships to grow Nebraska Extension. We don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel….but how many innovative new concepts have been applied to the vehicles we drive in the last 10 years?
I think for me, the choice of whether to “not reinvent the wheel” or follow the “road not taken” hinges around whether I perceive the work to be important to my professional goals. If I’m just trying to purchase something, or get somewhere….sure…chose not to reinvent the wheel….but if I’m doing something really deep and meaningful to my professional long term goals or thinking about how to do something so that it makes a bigger positive impact on the life of someone else, I need to spend a little time on the road less traveled.
I hope that this summer each of you spends a little time on the road less traveled. 🙂