Choose Your Path
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there…
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898).
We have all gone down paths that we regretted before. Whether they were physical paths in a forest, or the pathways of work decisions or relationship decisions-we have all fallen short in some way shape or form. However, is that a bad thing? Choosing a path, coming back to the beginning, and then redirecting in another direction may appear a waste of time to some, but in actuality failure and redirection have priceless lessons to teach us.
Mistakes Teach Us About Success
True success cannot exist without failure. The two coexist on a continuum that we all teeter on everyday of our lives. Choosing the right path only exists because a wrong path exists, and vice versa. All things come to an end, my father used to say. The good things, the bad things. All things. That is something to consider when we take our journey down a path. We must be watchful and learn everything we can along the way, because, at some point, the path will end and a new one will begin. Whether we are on the wrong path or right path is irrelevant. It’s what we can learn from each path that matters. Encourage yourself to make mistakes by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Take a path that is risky so you can learn from mistakes. Taking the easy path leads to complacency. Complacency leads us down a path where we don’t learn anything because we never make mistakes. Taking the path less traveled should not only be a good book that we read, it should be something that we apply everyday.
Plan Your Path
Nobody plans to fail. Your plan down your path should try and anticipate obstacles and plan contingencies accordingly. Make sure you have the right supplies for your journey, whether they are physical supplies like water, food, and fuel; or, the psychological supplies like the right amount of training to venture down a new chapter in your life. Planning your path is critical to both success and learning from your mistakes when they happen. With pinpoint accuracy, we can learn exactly what went wrong and why so that we can better our future attempts at the path. Having a mission plan for your path is critical. That mission should include your reason for going down the path (your goal), a list of elements that you need to accomplish in order to go down that path (your task list), and finally a support network that can help you to achieve your goal down the path (your swim buddy). These are the three critical elements of every journey, both large and small.
Learning How To Swim
I remember a long time ago, when I was 12 years old, my parents wanted me to learn how to swim. I learned at the Fall River (MA) YMCA in a pool that was in an old granite building in the center of the city. When it came time to jump into the deep end off of a small diving board, only 3 feet off the water, I froze and did not want to. I was terrified and refused to go down that path. I was even scared lowering myself down the ladder into the pool among the loud comments from my “friends” who had already jumped into the water that day. I definitely learned how to conquer my fears that day and went on, many years later, to jumping out of helicopters into the ocean at night without any reservation. I learned to control my fear of the water and turn it into a fascination, becoming an accomplished Combat Swimmer for the U.S. Navy. I often say that if an overweight 12 year old who fears the water can become a waterborne commando, then I truly believe that anyone can accomplish anything as long as they want to and have the right amount of training. What path will you choose?
This week, look at the paths that you have led in your life. Write them down and give them a positive or negative mark. What did you learn from each of your paths? Now map out some journeys that you want to accomplish in the future. Do you have a clear mission, task list and support network? How can you better identify your future? Remember that taking a path is better than not taking one and wallowing in complacency. Don’t be scared to take a path that may lead to failure. You may fail at first, but learning from your mistakes may lead you down another path, one that you have not even identified yet, to success beyond your expectations.
“Lean into it”