Taking the road less traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference – American poet Robert Frost

Human beings prefer familiarity. Part of that is conformance, partly is the fear of the unknown. If we stick to the well trodden path, we know what to expect. There will be more companions along the way. But we often like to hear the stories of those that didn’t. It sounds like an adventure.

What can we expect from this path less traveled ? We can imagine that it is a harder road to take. We will encounter more challenges. And when we do, there is going to be less help available to overcome them. We will likely have to do it ourselves. And get lost, or get hurt, or at the minimum, incur delays.

On the other hand, imagine what we will miss out if we always keep to the beaten track. You will only get to where the road takes you. Let me use the analogy of the public transport that we have in Singapore. Despite the complaints, it is still one of the best. You can get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ simply by taking one of the bus and train services. It is safe, comfortable, and brings you there within a certain time frame. However, it only brings you to where it wants to go. There are lots of places to explore in Singapore but they cannot be reached by the public transport system.

If we apply that to our career development, we can make a reasonable living doing things the way that everyone does. Unfortunately, it usually brings us to a similar ending. It is that same rat race. We study hard, get a good job, and compete with everyone for the promotion. The lucky ones get it, the majority plods along. When we get older, we feel pressured by competition for the job that we hold, from within the country and outside. In the future, new competition will be coming from automation.

Compare this with the stories we hear about individuals who strike out and achieved something different. They gained very different experience. They see the world through different lens. In overcoming the adversity along the way, they learn new skills and the awareness of themselves, and the understanding of the world. They gained confidence after having to deal with adversity. They are better prepared to face an uncertain future.

The younger generation has this chance. Modern medicine kept their parents healthy. Many are self-sufficient and do not depend on their children for livelihood. Go explore the world. Go do something that will broaden your horizon. Go challenge yourself and be amazed of your own capability. Take the road less traveled.

Your grandchildren will get to hear more interesting stories too 🙂

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