My Google adventures this week happened me upon the following phrase – “Perfectionists rarely choose the path of least resistance.” This got me thinking. First, I must share why I was on a Google-fest about perfectionism. As you may know, I launched my website just last month, and I have already come up with 15 ideas to make it “better” and more clear – more perfect. This really stressed me out. I believe stress is a signal that you are not living according to your Truth, or purpose. I also believe breakdowns are precursors to breakthroughs. My stress was a mini-breakdown for me, and I realized that not only am I a “recovering engineer” 🙂 but also a “recovering perfectionist!” This got me thinking about my clients who each have their own perfectionistic tendencies, which led to Googlemania… what is a perfectionist anyway?
Well, you may have to do your own Google search to find the definition, there are many. Or stay tuned to my blog because it may be a theme for awhile. Anyway, the phrase I quoted above got me thinking… I have a book on my shelf called “The Path of Least Resistance.” It was referenced in one of my FAVORITE BOOKS, “Breaking the Rules” by Kurt Wright, so I purchased it but hadn’t cracked it yet… until this morning. So I am clearly only in Chapter 1, but the principles are those I’ve been studying as coach. It claims that the Path of Least Resistance is that which requires the least amount of energy. He (Robert Fritz) uses the analogy of the roads in Boston, which are apparently quite winding, and were created by essentially following the cow paths that were there originally. The cows went around obstacles, and had a winding journey – not necessarily the direct route, but they took the path of least resistance.
So is it with humans. (These are my words here.) We can think of our “obstacles” (like the cow’s rocks and trees) as the “programming” we had at a young age (before the conscious mind was formed to stop it). We navigate life to avoid these obstacles (e.g. I better not speak up or I’ll get in trouble) and get to the end of life in one piece. Fritz calls this your “underlying structure.” He says you will always take the path of least resistance, and it is determined by your underlying structure… and you can change your underlying structure. This is where coaching comes it – it is not about trying to find a better way to navigate your obstacles, it is about shifting the underlying structure such that the obstacles literally disappear.
But here is my question: Is “perfectionists rarely choose the path of least resistance” an accurate statement? It makes sense – when it is challenging to let it go and say “I don’t have to do it all” or “the website is good enough for today” :), it certainly seems as if we are magnets for resistance. It is as if, for the perfectionist, if something is not challenging and even painful, it doesn’t count, or it isn’t good enough. Yet Fritz says we are always following the path of least resistance. So what gives? Are perfectionists an exception to “normal” human behavior?? Perhaps the way we perfectionists do things actually IS the path of least resistance for us, based on our underlying structure. For example, maybe our underlying structure says “doing it wrong” or “not doing enough” is the ultimate thing to be avoided, based on our prior experience in life, and that working hard or struggling or being overwhelmed are much easier than that! Is it possible struggle and resistance are two totally different things, and that that if we let go of the struggle we would have to face our real fears? What do you think?