Yesterday, we talked about why the superior road is the one less traveled. Unfortunately, just because there is less traffic on that road, doesn’t mean it’s easier.
When I got off the exit last Friday to avoid traffic, I had to take a more roundabout way. I had to go down Edwards Mill, left on Glenwood and head out to RTP from there. Not the most direct. Lots of lights.
The road less traveled is, in many ways, harder than sitting in traffic on the highway. You can sit there mindlessly and follow the slow droves. Or you can get off and take your own unique way.
In making any decision, we should weigh alternatives and pick the choice we think is best with the information we have. It’s always important to consider the potential cost and consequences of our choices.
And so, I want you to know the 6 personal qualities required to take the road less traveled:
- A real, solid belief in your own skills, vision, product, service and ethos. If you give in to doubts, you won't be able to stay on the road less traveled for long (see also #6).
- An ability to stand alone for your vision and skills. No one is going to get it quite like you. It’s your own unique vision and unfortunately, it’s rare that you’re going to find someone that understands it and supports it like you do. It can be a lonely road, but that fire is in your belly for a reason. Stoke it. Throw wood on it. Just don’t let a wet blanket put it out.
- A propensity to risk. I’ve been more comfortable with risk since I was fired from my first job out of college. That which appears secure, often isn’t. You need to have a willingness to risk. This risk might be resources like time and money or it might mean putting yourself, your product or your vision out there where it can be rejected.
- Fiercely pragmatic and flexible. If something isn’t working, you have to have a willingness to change. This is the difficult process of teasing out emotion in business. You have to set aside your ego to serve in the best way you can. If something isn’t working, you have to be willing to change it.
- Fiercely passionate and unwavering. This is completely in contrast to the last point - but you have to have some absolutes that you aren’t willing to compromise on. Otherwise, you’ll become whatever the money dictates or whatever others want and you'll fail to use your uniqueness to serve the world. You need to stick with you. You need to have negotiables (things you're flexible on, as mentioned in #4) and non-negotiables (things you won't waver on).
- Committed to the process. We all have moments, days, weeks, months where we don’t feel like it. We get discouraged by one thousand and fifty-eight things. The road less traveled is hard and lonely. The packed highway is easier, more mindless. When you're tempted to take the easy way out, that’s when it’s most important to keep showing up. Commitment is essential. Through the minor blips and the major obstacles.
The road less traveled isn’t easy. But why would you want the easy way? You know the results it gets. You want better than that. Go for the road less traveled.