Easy or Natural?
What is the difference between taking the easy way or following what comes naturally?
If measured by the amount of work you do or thought you put in, the difference is likely to be subtle and possibly indistinguishable. If measured by the level of accomplishment and quality of decision making, the difference is huge. Let me explain.
If you are determined and fortunate enough to identify skills that come naturally to you, you might confuse your use of those skills as taking the easy way. By definition, your natural skill set should be readily available to you and not require much effort or thought on your part to activate it.
Finding your strengths and utilizing your natural skills are extensions of your development as a person. In fact, the more you focus on these strengths and skills and develop them, the more likely you will be to reach your best potential, whether you are striving to be the best person you can be or simply trying to move forward in your career.
There is a direct correlation between the pursuit of your best self and the quality of life you will enjoy on this pursuit. How, then, would it ever be a negative for you to work on things that come easy to you and to be rewarded for achieving those related goals?
The answer is that you may confuse what comes naturally to you with taking the easy route. You may have been made to feel, at one point or another, that if you are not working long hours, you must not be working hard or expending enough effort. Maybe you didn’t need to study as much for a certain subject as a teacher thought, or your classmates needed to put more time in to get the same grade as you.
If you have a natural feel for math, you probably won’t need to spend a bunch of time studying for that math test to do well on it. If you have the ability to construct spreadsheets and input data without giving either task much thought, you will probably get that next project done in no time.
In no way does this mean that you are taking the easy route. You’ve simply identified some skills and then put yourself in a position to play to your strengths. If you do well in those pursuits, the reward for your achievements should in no way be lessened because it didn’t take you a massive number of hours and labor to earn those results.
If you are someone who has undervalued your own achievements simply because those achievements seemed to come more easily to you than they may have to others pursuing those same goals, please take a moment to reconsider your own valuation process. If you do, I suggest that you give yourself credit for being a sound decision maker and for thinking enough of yourself to identify your strengths and develop them for a positive purpose.
Leverage is a very difficult thing to earn in this world. Most of the time, you will find that you are on the proverbial shorter end of the stick. When you are fortunate enough to have found something you are good at and are in position to take advantage of that skillset, DO IT! And don’t second guess it!
So, if finding a more productive path through life using your skills and talents is not the easy way, what is?
If you find that all you are doing is staying within a certain comfort zone and only relying on what you already know are your natural skills, you are dangerously close to taking the easy way.
If you never challenge yourself to find and develop new skills, you are taking the easy way.
Routines can be very constructive and efficient, but if you are following the same routine every day, you are taking the easy way.
If you are not building on previous accomplishments and learning from past mistakes, you are taking the easy way.
You can discover your natural skills, develop them, and achieve an excellent result without necessarily feeling like you were toiling away and stretched to your limit. If you haven’t pushed yourself to keep doing that and to give purposeful thought about how you can continue to improve yourself, then you are taking the easy way.
The path of least resistance is often, but not always, the easy way.
Life is often difficult, especially if you care about others, who you are as a person, and what value you can provide to the world around you. On the occasion when it feels easy, especially when you’ve applied one of your natural skills to achieve something good, appreciate that time. Appreciate that you have that skill. Appreciate that accomplishment isn’t always measured by how much time it took or how much you sweated to earn it. Appreciate that you have put your natural talent to good use.
Then, learn something new and repeat the process all over again. If you do that often enough, you will never have to worry about taking the easy way.
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union