The Path of Most Resistance

November 9, 2009

By Laurie Clarke, Chief Operating Officer, The Tatham Group

As I’m about to become a new parent, I am receiving a lot of parenting tips and advice.  Some I seek. Most are offered upon spotting my unmistakable baby bump. I have stopped wasting my time explaining to these many strangers that they are not considering the customer, me, when they share horror stories or unsolicited advice on how to avoid their mistakes or replicate their successes.

Setting my customer focus issues aside, I decided to go with the flow. I am a firm believer that everyone can teach you something and the collective knowledge of hundreds of parents must be greater than my own. I made the decision to block out anything that will worry or terrify me and accept the other advice for consideration.

Of course, my Tatham mind kicks in and I start to turn these encounters into an opportunity.  I began to ask questions and categorize the answers. Very quickly I saw a pattern. The biggest regrets were other people’s biggest success – a parent must always follow the path of most resistance.

If the key to success is doing the right thing for your child regardless of how hard it is in the moment, why do so many parents give into the tantrums? Why is the path of least resistance so often the one taken? So I asked. The answers were common: exhaustion, not enough time, frustration, it’s not every time, what’s the point? Etc. Interesting. I’ve heard these reasons many times before from leaders and employees of companies we have worked with.

I couldn’t help but make the comparisons to the work we do with an organization while helping them change the way they approach their work. We are constantly encouraging them to make changes: to follow the path of most resistance. It’s hard. The results are not immediately visible and there is no guarantee you are going to get the outcome you want even if you follow through on the action.

Knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two different things. It is only through action that something will change, improve, or end. I struggle with this at times as well. There has been a decision I have put off making until today when writing this post inspired me into action. It’s hard, a lot of work and I’m not going to be well liked. The decision is easy and I’m sure it is the right one. It reminds me of the saying – short-term pain for long-term gain. Even if there is a whole lot of pain now and the only thing to be gained is a release from a worry or stress so you can move on.

Now for the really tough part – to remember to take the path of most resistance when I’m sleep deprived and have to wait 18-25 years to see the results of my efforts with my daughter. It’s a good thing we also believe in a safe environment for failure and learning from mistakes. I’m sure I will make my fair share. Wish me luck!

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  • hey laurie! belated happy birthday! stumbled onto your article when i was surfing parenting sites 🙂 congrats on your baby girl! i’m about to pop out a baby boy anytime now, too! take care!