“I don’t want that one, NeeNee, it’s different.” Those were the words spoken by my seven year old granddaughter, Olivia, as I handed her a handful of fresh cherries.
“What’s wrong with it”, I asked?
“It doesn’t look like the rest of the cherries; it’s not the same color.” Without hesitation, she exchanged the cherry for one that resembled all the others. “There”, she said, “now they all look alike”.
It was an innocent, yet thought provoking, statement that triggered a red flag. Might she be swayed to take the road less traveled in life because it is wasn’t a popular choice? I wondered if she viewed sameness as a validation of acceptance within her peer group.
I tend to be OCD, so maybe I overplayed the whole cherry conversation; but one thing is certain, following the masses to “fit in” has never been an option for me. I like the idea of traveling the road less traveled. There is excitement in bushwhacking my own path in life and living with a fearless desire to see what lies ahead. Of course, blazing new trails doesn’t come without opposition or obstacles.
There are things to consider before taking the road less traveled.
1. The road less traveled is narrow and often lonely. You won’t earn popularity votes.
2. You will encounter plenty of people who didn’t follow their dreams, or gave up; I call them dead soldiers. Avoid their discouragement and stay focused on the road you’ve taken.
3. Don’t expect everyone to understand your choices.
4. Failure is not the end. Those on the popular track are waiting for some miracle to land in their lap. Guess what? Miracles don’t happen without hard work.
5. Set your own challenges. Become the CEO of your own life and set goals different from others.
6. Success isn’t measured by time; it’s measured by experiences and opportunities that allow you to know what works best for you.
7. Understand that trailblazers disrupt nature; they overturn rocks, cut down trees and move dirt. If they can’t remove the obstacle they build bridges over or around it. Sheer determination cuts through barriers and obstacles.
8. Taking the road less traveled is for leaders; they point the way, take the risks, and have a vision for turning their dreams into reality.
9. Know your passion and gifts. You need to know with absolute certainty that the path you’re blazing is the right one for you.
10. Trailblazers create a path where none existed before.
As an online entrepreneur and manufacturer for over 15 years, I’ve learned valuable lessons from the school of hard knocks, both personally and professionally. One thing is certain; an individual deemed an odd-colored cherry, regardless of age, has two choices. They can let sameness validate them or embrace their uniqueness and take the road less traveled. I want my granddaughter to understand she doesn’t have to be like all the other cherries in the (peer) pack; or, stifled by other people’s expectations and limiting thoughts.
When the time comes for Olivia to venture out on her own, NeeNee will be there with a shovel, ax, hammer and backhoe. She can count on me to mentor, saw trees, chop thorny bushes and build bridges as she blazes her trail in life. And may she find a bowl of odd-colored cherries at the end of her trail; a reminder she took the road less taken.