Escaping The Default Path
Tuesday Thoughts #77
This Week's Leading Thoughts:
The Pathless Path
Book Notes: Friction
Photo of the Week
Question of the Week:
How do you design a life that doesn’t put work first?
Paul Millerd raises that question in The Pathless Path. The book details his journey from a high-powered NYC consultant, or what he calls the default path, to the pathless path.
The default path is to "Study hard, get good grades, get a good job. Then put your head down and keep going, indefinitely."
For Millerd, the default path led to a nice six-figure salary, health problems, and then total burnout at the ripe old age of 33.
For me, my burnout came after year four in public education (without the six-figure salary, unfortunately).
I tried running through it. I tried escaping to the Appalachian Trail. 700 miles later and injured, I fell back into default mode working unsatisfying life-absorbing roles.
That little internal voice continued to tell me something was wrong.
There is another way:
The pathless path is an alternative to the default path. It is an embrace of uncertainty and discomfort. It’s a call to adventure in a world that tells us to conform. For me, it’s also a gentle reminder to laugh when things feel out of control and trusting that an uncertain future is not a problem to be solved.
I feel like this is the path I've been searching for. But, it requires courage and a willingness to risk failure. People don't question the default path, but the alternative is met with skepticism.
I have a family to support. I know that finding the path where I can best use my talents and abilities will bring out the best husband and father, but it's scary. How do I switch paths? What do I have to offer?
So, for now, I'm reflecting on how I can best use my assets to build meaningful relationships, unlock the potential in others with an emphasis on leadership development, and encourage lifelong learning.
This is the combination of skills that I'm bringing to the table:
Leadership skills gained from 18 years in the Army, including 3 deployments and running multiple organizations from 15-150+ people.
The resiliency and growth mindset hardened by running thousands of miles. "The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials."
Knowledge of learning, teaching, and facilitation developed over more than a decade of training Soldiers, teaching students, and developing employees.
Have you ever worked freelance or started your own business? Or made even a few dollars off an entrepenurial side hustle?
I haven't, but it’s time to consider what else is possible.
I wish I had your confidence, Doc.
Overall Satisfaction (1-5): 4
Friction is everywhere; the most successful people and organizations identify and optimize friction to their competitive advantage.
And, less friction is not always best.
🙋 Who Should Read It?
Entrepreneurs and business leaders, although it is easily adaptable to how individuals might improve environmental effects to achieve a desired result.
The downside, Dooley admits near the end to being required to submit a 75k word book and it felt like it at times.
☘️ How the Book Changed Me
After reading this book, I look at everything from the lens of “where is the friction?” It’s made me increasingly more aware of what is happening around me. That might be as simple as my newsletter template, my office setup, or observations at a local food joint. Friction improvements are possible everywhere.
✍️ My Top 3 Takeaways
The Law of Least Effort, sometimes called the Principle of Least Effort, says that given a choice, people will choose the option that requires the smallest amount of work.
Instead of attempting to boost motivation, reducing friction is almost always less expensive and often faster to accomplish.
Our daily lives are driven by environmental friction that we can identify and modify.
Photo of the Week:
I had a tough realization this week: The rocking and snuggling before bed aren't just about baby anymore.
I need it, too.