The Tried-and-Tested Way | Benefits and Dangers of the Trodden Path

The orthodox approach comes with fixed guidelines regarding what should be done, how it should be done, and what can and cannot be done. In following a process that has been well-established, we find ourselves in a place where we know what we are supposed to do. It is how we embrace the conventional path.

When we work within the boundaries of convention, we cease to tap into our creativity. We no longer innovate. Rather, we adopt the belief system which was put in place well before we arrived on the scene. Some institutions–especially those that have been around for sometime–have a set way of doing things which must be adhered to.

Is it ‘better’ to follow social structures that are established? In certain institutions, there are ceremonies, rituals and so on that reflect the core values of the establishment. To truly thrive in this environment, one would simply have to learn to conform to the already existing set of rules and situations which have been fixed; and will most likely not change. It is not that change is impossible or that it doesn’t happen, but rather, change tends to be slow and is not welcomed.

To succeed in these organisations requires us to work with and alongside others within an established system. We need to be careful not to rock the boat and stay on the path that has been decided for us. This creates safety, not only for the individual, but for the entire group as a whole. In such a setting, group cohesiveness is more important than the individual autonomy. In traditional institutions, seniority matters and in the event that one is blessed with a good mentor, personal growth can be exponential. Much can be learnt from following a tried-and-tested path.

The downside is that there are many restrictions and constraints that stem from the many structures and rules that have to be followed. As a result, one can lose control over one’s individuality and autonomy. We can no longer be flexible to the changing tides of the world as we have to hold our ground no matter what happens.

Ironically, the temptation to try and test the unorthodox can rear its ugly head in such an institution. Despite the veneer and image that has to maintained, the temptation to function in a way which defies social ties and norms can run rampant and high. This is a reality in many institutions. People may, at times, even find it hard to live up to ‘the expectations’ as well as align to group norms.

Why? The answer is simple. Life becomes stagnant, stale and boring. Pragmatism is what led us on the path of the tried-and-tested. When it comes to shared values and creating a future, we may find out further down the line that our views are simply not in alignment with those around us. It may be difficult–and in some cases, even impossible–to reach any sort of compromise.

Personal creativity, achievement and freedom can end up being stifled by bureaucracy, processes and rules. This may lead many to eventually believe that they are not valued. This, in turn, may lead them to hold the view that if only they had the option and the means–they may have been able to solve the problems that exist.

Is it stubbornness or strength that leads institutional cultures such as these to ‘stick to their guns’? They like to do things The Way. And it is the only way. There will undoubtedly exist significant amounts of pressure to follow and align with the organisation’s decisions even if you have a differing opinion or view.

This is what leads some to leave the institution–if they can and are able. Nevertheless, it is this that leads many to stay. They know who they are, they know what they need to do–and if they just stick to the path, they will ultimately succeed.


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