When The Easy Path is a Trap

Sometimes doing what’s easy is the smart thing to do. The path of least resistance can save you time, money, and emotional labor.

But sometimes choosing what’s easy has greater impacts than you imagine. Doing what’s easy can keep you from being creative. And often it’s a force that maintains the status quo. Again, sometimes you want that. But sometimes you don’t. So we want to make those decisions thoughtfully and consciously.

I taught advertising a few years ago and students would choose their own topics for their projects. I was excited when I had a team tell me that they were going to make an ad campaign that celebrated women inventors. “Great!” I said. But then a week later when their first draft was due my heart sank as I watched them pin-up images of Einstein and Edison for crit. “Women inventors were too hard to find,” they said, “so we just went with regular inventors.” Sigh.

Easy was a trap for these students. It trapped them into designing a campaign that wasn’t innovative at all. And it trapped them into maintaining the status quo which is just what the status quo wants us to do.