Dec 072012

Sometimes The Long Way Is The Right Way

Like many people I know, I usually try to do things as quickly as possible; purposely taking the long way to get something done goes against every fiber in my competitive body.

Recently though, I took the long way for a very personal reason and it made me realize that sometimes taking the long way is very definitely the right way to go.  Let me explain.

Not long ago I had to travel unexpectedly on a family emergency.  I received a phone call that my Dad, at 87 years old and reaching the final stages of a debilitating dementia disease, had taken a quick turn for the worse and had been put on hospice care.  My understanding of hospice care was that death was imminent, so the news hit me like a ton of bricks, especially given that I was 15 hours away by car and given the timing of the news and my location, there were no flights that were going to get me there much quicker.

So I packed everything I could think of that I may need to run my life and business for an indefinite period of time and jumped into my car.  Given the unpredictability of traffic, I worried that I would arrive too late to say goodbye to my Dad.

As I drove, I ran into the inevitable traffic problems and was doing everything I could to navigate to get there in time for the meeting with the hospice care team and my family, and of course, to get there in time to see my Dad and say goodbye to him.

During all of this navigation and rushing as safely as possible, there came a Robert Frost type of moment; two roads diverged and I had the choice whether to take a longer route and drive through a beautiful mountainous area where I spent every summer of my childhood camping and fishing with my Dad and family.  When the roads diverged, my immediate thought was, “I need to take the shorter route.  If I don’t get there in time, I won’t get another chance and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life”.  Then, I took a moment to think about it and realized that the route through the mountains would likely have much less traffic and may actually get me there at the same time, or earlier.  In some ways, with just a little more thought and less impulse than normal, it seemed like a better decision, even from a speed perspective, as there was less risk of traffic jams.

At the end of the day, I took the longer route.  The reward was immediate, as when I changed the route, my GPS immediately indicated that with current traffic, my expected arrival time was 15 minutes earlier!  Further, the sunshine that morning was amazing as it reflected off the mountains and led me all the way to the meeting and to see my Dad before he passed away.  The results could have been different, but in this case, it was better to take the long way.  It gave me some much-needed spiritual nourishment and it actually got me where I needed to go more quickly – a great result.

That experience led me to think more generally about intentionally taking the longer route sometimes.  When I reflected a bit on my experiences and those of others I know, I realized that many of the greatest and most rewarding experiences I’ve had, have come when my approach was not all about taking the presumed shortest, most efficient route.  This will impact my decision-making in the future.  Sometimes taking the long way is the way to go.  Do you agree?

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

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  • Annie Haven | Authentic Haven Brand

    I agree with the longer route! I came to a similar circumstance and I believe that my taking the longer route was indeed the best choice I could have made.