All too often, we approach any given problem from the well-worn path of our trusted experience. We search our kit bag of experiences for a solution that's worked in similar situations. This is nature. This is how our brains work - we learn grow and develop expertise by leveraging familiar paths to success.

child looking at map
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

The science behind this phenomenon tells us that each time we learn something new, neural pathways are created in your brain. These pathways are built on neurons and while I'm no scientist, my understanding is that these that act like  wires conducting an electric signal. These connections are called synapses.

With every repeated execution (practice) of a new skill, the connection (synapse) increases in strength and efficiency.

I'm reminded of the analogy that we see in a worn pathway through a field or a forest. The first time the path is taken, it's not a path at all. It's difficult to pass. But with each passing, each time you hack through the weeds and undergrowth, each time your footsteps press down the debris in the path, you create a path that's easier to follow.

This is essentially, how we evolve. If we had to solve a given problem (cross a field) using a fresh path each time, we'd likely not travel as far — i.e. evolve. Leveraging worn paths enable us to navigate more swiftly to gather resources (solve problems.)

The problem with taking the familiar path each time is that we don't get to experience different perspectives; different paths. Put simply: If we always do what we always did, we always get what we always got.

We're in growth mode, so I'm naturally recruiting constantly and hiring. As a result, we're bringing new members onto the team. These new team members come with an extremely diverse set of skills and experiences and while they may be new to our company and team and they may have much to learn about of how things get done, I desperately hope they see the value in their fresh perspective. I want them to know that they should feel comfortable asking questions.

Why? signage near grass during daytime
Photo by Ken Treloar / Unsplash

As with everything, the key is finding balance. A team that constantly questions or "new-paths" will collapse under the weight of solving problems from scratch each time.  I hope we find that balance so that we, as a team and as a company can continue to become more efficient, more effective and survive to evolve.  I hope we have the courage to question, to listen and to adapt to new and exciting perspectives as we grow together.

Between the well-worn paths through our bureaucratic jungle, lie nuggets of gold that only the bold will find when they dare to ask the question...

"But why do we do it that way?"