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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I repeated and overanalyzed the poem so many times that I can no longer determine which path is the one less traveled nor why it matters.

If you don’t know the poem I’m referring to, you are probably Gen Z and I will do my best to not hold that against you.

The poem is called “The Road Not Taken” and it was written by Robert Frost who is a very famous poet. You really should’ve learned this in school. I’m not sure why I have to be your teacher.

You’ve heard of Dr. Seuss, right?
Well, Frost’s poem is kind of like a grown-up version of “Oh! The Places You’ll Go.”
Here, read it. It’s short.

The intention of the poem is to motivate us to do things differently. To think for ourselves as opposed to just following the masses. To walk down the path less traveled.

So anyhoo, I got to thinking about these two roads, one more traveled and one less.

The thing is, I’m not sure the less traveled path is always the best.

    The Benefits of a Well-Traveled Path

    There’s a well-traveled path for a reason.

    After all, when times are tough, when we are emotionally and mentally drained, and the road ahead is intimidatingly steep, it sure helps to have others close by to lift us up and carry us forward.

    The well-traveled path is packed with people who know the way and can guide you. There are colleagues and mentors and bosses galore.

    Because of this, the well-traveled path isn’t so lonely.

    Do you know what’s lonely? Walking down a path that is untraveled. That’s what’s lonely.

    Do you think people are climbing Mt. Everest on the road less traveled? Spoiler alert: they aren’t. Why? Because they’ll probably die.

    The popular path is proven. It works. It’s oftentimes the best route to get to your goal.

    Then again, the popular path might just be the easy way out. As we all know, personal growth doesn’t come from the easy path.

    You know what, you can spend an entire life standing at the crossroads, coming up with a never-ending circle of justifications as to which road you should and shouldn’t take.

    And yes, that’s exactly what I’ve done. But there’s a reason I’ve overanalyzed it – a reason beyond those voices in my head that make me do these types of things.

    The reason is that we do, in fact, have two choices in life. But the paths are a little less subtle than Frosty describes.

    faith and fear

    Your Two Choices in Life

    In any given scenario, you have two options: faith or fear.

    Yup, that’s it. Only those two.

    To have faith is to believe in something that you cannot see.
    Fear, on the other hand, is the lack of belief in that something.

    There is no middle ground. You either believe or you don’t.

    This faith-fear paradigm can apply to almost anything.

    You can have faith/fear in ghosts, in emotions, in a million-dollar check appearing in your mailbox next week.

    You can have faith that my wife will buy potatoes at the store today or you can be fearful that she won’t remember.

    All that aside, the most important question in all of this is, sadly, not about potatoes. It’s about you.

    Do you live in fear or do you live in faith?

    faith and fear

    Faith Can Be Scary

    For clarity, living in fear is very different from being scared. Sure you can live in fear and be scared, but you also have faith and still be scared.

    Few people embody this concept more than entrepreneurs.

    When somebody starts their first business they are immediately thrust into a role they’ve never experienced. As for me, at the ripe old age of 27, I went from being a manager at a bigger company to the CEO of my own company.

    It’s scary. Really f-ing scary. Despite being scared of their circumstance, the very reason entrepreneurs bring that on is because they have faith in their pursuit.

    Get it?

    The Fear-Driven Leader

    Fearfulness is a significant issue when it comes to leadership. I’m not talking about being scared (refer to the section above) I’m talking about the leader’s lack of faith which causes big problems.

    A leader’s lack of faith is a culture killer. And when you kill the culture, you kill the company.

    As it turns out, there are three types of fears that are the downfall of leaders. These are where we’re going to do a little self-exploration. They are:

    • Fear of not being liked
    • Fear of not being perfect
    • Fear of failure

    Each of these fears manifests itself in different ways. The question is, how much of each is inside you?

    Let’s take a looksie, shall we?

    1. The leader who fears not being liked

    A leader who has a fear of not being liked is one that can’t always be trusted.

    This leader will say different things to different people, oftentimes contradicting themselves, simply to avoid conflict. After all, conflict could lead to not being liked, right?
    (Don’t answer that, it was a rhetorical question)

    The leader who has a fear of not being liked usually allows – and oftentimes engages in – company gossip. They talk behind people’s backs in order to feel accepted by others.

    When given a controversial topic, they will rarely make a decision. In fact, they oftentimes let their subordinates make the decisions themselves, simply so the leader doesn’t put themselves in a position of disappointing others.

    A leader who fears not being liked creates a toxic culture of distrust and poor decision-making. It’s not good.

    On the other hand, the successful leader has faith. They are not concerned about being liked, but about being respected. After all, every leader will at some point have to make decisions that people don’t like.

    The successful leader knows that being liked is not the ultimate goal, it is simply a result of being respected.

    faith and fear

    2. The leader who fears not being perfect

    A leader who fears not being perfect is a problematic leader.

    They are oftentimes a micromanager. And that’s a bad thing.

    They don’t know how to let other people fail because they are too fearful of not being right. The leader who fears not being perfect won’t hesitate to disrupt a project and change everything that had already been accomplished, with little to no care about the employees’ efforts or feelings.

    They insist on making all decisions – even ones with which they don’t need to be involved. They become the company bottleneck, slowing down progress and halting productivity.

    The leader who is fearful of not being perfect ends up creating a culture that lacks creativity. Innovation stalls under their watch.

    And yet the leader will often complain that they have to do the work themselves because the rest of the team can’t do it well. They don’t understand that the team doesn’t perform because the leader doesn’t let them.

    On the other hand, the successful leader has faith. They let their employees come up with ideas and take chances. They reward failure because they know it’s the first step on the path to success.

    The successful leader knows that perfection is the enemy of progress.

    faith and fear

    3. The leader who fears failure

    A leader who fears failure is one that limits growth.

    The fear of failure causes them to avoid situations in which there is risk.

    The leader who has a fear of failure rarely has a vision that they stick to. If they even have a vision at all, it’s continually changing. After all, having a single vision may mean you won’t achieve it. Instead, they simply deal with the day-to-day management. They make decisions based on emotions, not on facts or purpose or goals.

    The leader who has a fear of failure will often rely heavily on other people to get a job done. After all, if they aren’t involved, they can’t be responsible for the failure, right? Instead, they are apt to blame others for failure. Heck, they’ll throw the entire company under the bus if they need to.

    On the other hand, the successful leader has faith. They look at data and make logical decisions. They have a vision and strive to achieve it, knowing full well they may not.

    The successful leader knows that failure is an essential part of success.

    The Two Roads

    As I was saying, two roads diverge in a wood. One is the path of fear and the other the path of faith.

    Which road do you travel down?
    The choice is yours.

    faith and fear

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      A Somewhat Relevant Quote

      Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase

      Martin Luther King, Jr., a guy who had a dream

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