Less Common Roads

Bill Abbate

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The words of a great Irish statesman have given me much food for thought in the past few days. He points to the need to focus on a goal within "a given time" and to "walk out of all the common roads." His words hit truth like a blacksmith's hammer hardening steel.

This gentleman said:

"When a great man has some one object in view to be achieved in a given time, it may be absolutely necessary for him to walk out of all the common roads." Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

These words naturally led me to think of Robert Frost's famous poem, The Road Not Taken. You are likely familiar with its ending:

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Choosing another route

If there is one thing I have learned from many decades in business and life, it is that anyone who does extraordinary things, or almost anything out of the ordinary, takes a different road than most. Using Burke's words, they have "some one object in view to be achieved in a given time," Another way to say this is they have a clear goal with a deadline.

Everyone knows those who see their goal clearly expecting to achieve it by a certain time will always beat those without goals. Why? Because those without a goal remain on the same road as everyone else! Everyone except those who chose to get off of that road.

With a goal, you will "walk out of all the common roads." as Burke puts it, or you will take "the one less traveled," as Frost states. What does this other less-common, less-traveled road look like in life?

Less-common, less-traveled roads

This less-common road differs from the commonly traveled road considerably. Think about it. You cannot expect to spend hours watching television each day and achieve as much as someone who spends a portion of those hours doing something productive.

Did you know, according to many studies, the average American spends between 3 to 4 hours watching television daily? Imagine taking only one of those hours to improve or learn a new skill? Or what about using some of the time to read personal development books.

Over a year, doing such a thing could make a huge difference in your life, even if you spend a few minutes daily! What could you learn in only a half-hour each day which equals more than 180 hours in a year? I bet you could learn a lot!

Taking the uncommon road of watching less television and reading to help yourself is only one of many things you can do to "walk out of all the common roads." What other ways can you leave the common road to accomplish more in life? Why not try some of the following uncommon roads that can put you on the road less traveled?

  • Take control of your time
  • Learn to say no
  • Speak less and listen more
  • Keep studying and learning
  • Create instead of respond or react
  • Aim higher
  • Read more
  • Turn off the television
  • Limit your time on social media
  • Maintain good health

Those are only a few roads you can begin walking onto, which will help you walk off all the common roads most people take. By taking these roads less traveled, you can build an extraordinary life. What strikes a chord with you? What others come to mind? I would love to hear some of your ideas in the comment section below!

Final thoughts

Each day you and I step off or onto the common roads in life. If you take one thing away from this article, I hope it is: The way to live an extraordinary life of achievement is to travel the less common roads.

When you choose to take control over your life and do what others will not do, you can travel the road to achievement, accomplishing far more than any ordinary person. Since you can choose only one road to travel each day as you go through life, which do you prefer?

Will you choose the road most people take, which is the easier road to travel? Or will you choose the less common and less traveled road that will separate you from the crowd?

The choice is yours. May you make the best choice for your life and for all those you love!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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