Over the past several months our family has been wresting with the decision of where our oldest daughter will attend high school this next year. I started to think about the words of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. In the summary of the poem he states that he took “the one less traveled by and that made all the difference.” I suppose the only way to know for sure is if he could have followed someone else taking the other path. Perhaps the other path would have lead to a better destination.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Life is a series of decisions and the person that you become is the result of the choices you make and the impacts of the paths that you take. The subject of the poem discusses the potential of returning and taking the other path at a later time. In reality, the sigh of the author expresses an understanding that paths not taken are rarely, if ever, explored. I guess this leaves the need to fully accept the rewards and consequences of the paths you take.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
The introspection for you individually and in your business is to first realize that there may be more than one path to take and secondly to make good decisions along the way. My father has told me that life is something that is lived forward and understood backward. Wouldn’t it be interesting to understand forward and then live the predictable results of the paths that you take? It sure would be easier to have full confidence in our daily decisions. In reality this would come with another set of challenges as we try and cope with a predictable life. I would opine that we would also become less of a complete person by avoiding the inevitable challenges that create the character of the person we will become. I look back on my life and realize that true growth has come through the challenges and setbacks, more than success.
Your opportunity is to make choices and walk a path to find the joys, challenges and enjoy the journey. I think the best you can ask for is to have wisdom in your decisions and where necessary to have good advice that makes decisions easier and help you overcome challenges that inevitably will arise.
You will create the ending to your own poem that states, “I took responsibility for the path that I chose, and I own the results of those decisions.” You will become the result of the decisions you make and also the paths that you realized you should have taken. It is important to occasionally think about your previous decisions to learn the impact of those decisions and to avoid similar mistakes in the future. It is also critical to realize that your current reality is the result of your previous decisions. Taking responsibility for where you are in life is an important step in accessing opportunities in the future.
Consider embracing the attitude of those that practice Zen and live fully in your day, today. If you practice Zen then you understand that there is no tomorrow and no yesterday – you only have today. I like to take bits and pieces of this practice for my own use and enjoy the memories of yesterday and also learn from the failures, so I can prevent them in the future. I also will make decisions today that will benefit my family, my business, my community and me, for tomorrow. I endeavor to do all of this while embracing the simple joys of today.
Wishing you much joy and success in your decisions today and delight in the uncertainty of tomorrow.