Don’t get me wrong. I understand why people gravitate towards Robert Frost’s quote:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
It’s a romantic notion. Forge your own path. Do things your way. Go left when everyone else is going right. And, too often, it’s just plain stupid.
Think about the salmon on its journey up the river. Inch by inch, foot by foot, yard by yard, and mile by mile the salmon fights, pushes against the current, struggling to reach his new destination. He doesn’t know why he swims so far for so long. He just knows that all of his buddies are doing it so he should too.
And then, as that wonderful, glorious moment approaches and he musters all of his energy to make the final leap towards his dictated utopia, a grizzly (who is clearly much smarter than the average bear) stands drooling in the water and merely opens his mouth to catch a snack. No hunting necessary. He knows where his food supply is going to be and he stands waiting at the checkout line.
That poor little salmon. Sushi for an 800-pound pescatarian.
I know… you’re probably thinking, “Ok, so shouldn’t the salmon have taken the road less traveled and swam downstream instead of up?” Well, yes and no.
Yes because in the words of Homer Simpson as he once said to Lisa, “If something is too hard to do, it’s not worth doing.” If you’re continually fighting upstream, it might be time to relax, let go, and allow the current to take you elsewhere.
No because the salmon had a choice —- pay attention to what’s going on, see how his buddies made it safely to the promised land and follow their path; or, blindly leap towards destiny, throw caution to the wind, and go for broke.
Well, he got his wish. And, now every bone in his little fishy body is broke and soon he’ll be fertilizer for a beautiful new forest.
Look, I’m all for sharing your WHAT and singular self with the world. But I also know that, while imitation is certainly the sincerest form of flattery, embodying the character traits of those you admire and replicating their actions is a flat-out brilliant strategy.
There’s no shame in taking the road less traveled. It’s how progress is made. It’s also how many would-be millionaires become actual zero-aires.
In the ridiculously short period of time in which we inhabit this planet, recognize that sometimes going it alone is the right thing to do. Most of the time, however, you can realize your desired results not by creating your own wheel, but by painting it your own color.