Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hard Way

Sometimes it is worth doing things the hard way, just for the sake of the challenge or for finding out something new in the process.  What this might mean, in practical terms, is that you are on your own and trying things out that nobody else will try out.  I think that this is an inspiring way to lead, or to blaze a trail through new territory, so that others can then follow.

This can seem quite a courageous thing to do.  However, on the balance of a cost-benefit analysis, it might be easy enough to just see that the way people have been doing something for the last age is simply not working, so why not try something new.  The education system for example: assuming it is a major cause of societal dysfunction, why don’t we do it differently?  Make a few big changes in your methods if you are an educator, give it a few years for the effects to become obvious, and then see what happens.

The hard way can get easier with practice, and it is possible that you will discover a better way, where the efforts produce enough benefit to be worthwhile.  Just because the natural state of things is to find the most efficient or easy way, like a path through the woods, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to benefit way more, e.g. putting in the effort to build a road through the less trod path.

I have been inspired to take a fresh approach, often taking the hard way, by Robert Frost’s classic, included in full below.  While it seems this was not Frost’s intention in writing, it has served in this way very well for very many.  My personal irony is that I tend to abhor people reading their own intent into what an author meant, especially when it comes to interpreting the bible.  However, this is a little different as it is a work of art and art is generally designed to inspire and cause people to reflect.  Anyway, for your own inspiration, here it is:

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference