Stuck in the middle of

Everyone line up quietly.

Go in order.

If you’re #1, you go first. If you’re #2, you always go right after #1.

Start on the left and move to the right.

Start at the top and move to the bottom.

If you’re not sure, see how the others do it. Follow them.

Do any of those instructions sound familiar? Did you hear them as a child? Did you give them to your child?

So many of us have heard about being logical, orderly, doing it the way it’s always been done, and many times that’s fine.

Many times it works out well.

Many times we “don’t need to fix what ain’t broke.”

But.

Then there’s a novel approach used by recent mega Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer, which showed us another way to succeed on that well-known game show, one that we could at least consider.

Most contestants over the years have started at the top of the grid, with the smallest amount of money ($100) that could be won in any category. Hmmm, let’s see: the $100 or the $500 clue first?

Yes, the answers and questions at the top are easier, but the ones at the bottom won’t get harder by choosing them first.

And I see at least three ways making that choice can reward those contestants:

  1. Getting the right answer means getting a quick $500 (or $1,000 in Round 2).
  2. Getting it wrong takes away that chance from another contestant.
  3. The Daily Double is much more likely to be in the bottom row than the top one, although apparently, it’s even more likely to be in the fourth row.

While I never fully thought this through before, over the years I’ve often wondered – and sometimes yelled it at the TV – why would a contestant choose anything small, especially when there are just a few clues left? I mean, really: If the three choices left are a $100 clue, a $300 clue, and a $500 clue (or double those amounts in Round 2) … why the heck would anyone go for the $100 one?

To me, this also plays out in life. Too many times, we dutifully do it the way we or others have always done it. Whether it’s about business, money, friendships – whatever – we fall back on tried-and-true ways, not even considering how else we could succeed.

We think in small terms. We don’t look at the bigger prizes; somehow, winning something small seems to be good enough. And, of course, sometimes it might be.

But what if we dared to break the mold? What if we dared to risk something bigger? What if we looked at different ways – asked others about their thoughts – what if we took a new path?

All in all, that’s the beauty of the Village concept. Other brains. Other lives lived. Other ideas that come from other backgrounds. So many other ways to succeed, to measure success, to define success than what we might have thought of on our own.

I’ve always loved this quote by Robert Frost in his poem “The Road Not Taken”:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Have you found yourself stuck in patterns that were holding you back? What have you done about that, and what would you share here to help others?


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Maureen Y. Nowicki

You and Robert Frost definitely have some enticing thoughts about looking at life and choice. Thank you Susan. I really enjoyed your piece for a Monday morning think!

Anonymous
Anonymous

And I’m happy to know that, Maureen! Thanks so much!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Maureen, for some reason I was anonymous earlier; now I hope I’m back to being Susan again!

Susan Goodkind Wideman, J.D.

Very thoughtful. There are so many less traveled roads to consider.

Susan Goodkind Wideman, J.D.

Very thoughtful and beautifully written.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Susan, thank you so much! And this is from Susan Rooks; there’s some reason why I’m still being seen as anonymous.

Larry Tyler

Susan you always make us think and maybe look a little deeper. Strong Ink mixed a little bit of the lost highways. Thank you my friend

John Dunia

I like to break the mold in other ways, Susan. Although the Frost poem is monumental (and I don’t wish to take anything away from it nor it’s meaning), what if someone took the road less traveled by and they were jumped by thugs?
I do agree with bucking the system and changing up the ordinary. Often it’s the best way to solve difficult problems. Your article is wonderful and I hope you know I would not ever rain on your parade. Sometimes I believe that being difficult for difficulty’s sake, is an act of rebellion and a rather very unwise maneuver.