Which Way Do You Go: Towards What is Known or What is New?

January 29th, 2013 by Kelly Kienzle

How do you know whether to accept a new opportunity?  What are the merits of listening to the voice of experience and reason versus the dare-devil voice urging you towards a new, bolder move?  When making a decision, how much should we rely on proven strengths versus fanning the flames of personal innovation?

We find this situation in our jobs routinely:  We can take the path that we know will lead to certain outcomes, or we can choose something more unknown that may result in reward or failure (or an interesting mixture of both.)  For example, if I botched that type of project in the past, does that mean I try it again when a new opportunity presents itself; or do I learn from my mistakes and move to a project where I’ve had proven success?  Which option would be of more benefit for my team?  For myself?  Which road should I take?

Mr. Frost described these roads and the surrounding woods to us 93 years ago, setting up a clean, either/or decision.  But is this the right framework and was his bold advice correct?  Surely we can’t choose the less traveled road each time.  If we did, would we be throwing aside any lessons learned from our last experience, because we’re travelling down yet another new road?  What about the advice to go with our strengths (i.e., proven successes) to ensure we’ll be happier and more valuable to our team?  And, how often do we choose which path?

Perhaps we could think of it in terms of ratios or proportions, instead of either/or.  Perhaps you want to push yourself to choose the new path for 20% of your decisions.  This metric may apply to just certain areas of your life.  For example, you may choose to make 80% of your decisions be bold ones in your personal life, and 20% be towards new paths in your professional life.  These may be your targets for just two weeks and then they may change.

However you choose to navigate these woods, commit to some percentage of your decisions being bold.  Be mindful of when you choose the bold move and when you choose the known path.  Because what is most critical is to recognize that you have a choice and then to make it consciously.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

– William Jennings Bryan

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