Hit the gas on the road less traveled

Column by Michael Norton

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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” From the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” Have you been there, faced with a tough decision or at a crossroad in your life? And if so, did you take the road less traveled or did you follow the path where the ground had been cleared and maybe just a little bit easier to traverse?

I have found myself at that decision point on more than one occasion, a true crossroad in my life. And maybe it's the closet poet in me and huge fan of Robert Frost, but I, in most cases, seem to take the road less traveled. In most cases it has served me well and set me on a new course, adventurous tour, and wild ride. But just as the poem reads, “… and that has made all the difference.”

And then there have been those few times where I followed the masses, accepted the easy path, went along to get along, and I found myself either bored or disappointed, always wondering what would have been or could have been had I chosen the road less traveled. You see, I am not a very good “yes” man, and when I find myself at a decision point, especially a critical decision point, I need to be able to evaluate my options and determine what most others might choose to do, and dig in deeper to the “why” behind their decisions. And this is what usually triggers my decision to try an alternate route.

When people share with me where they are in the crossroads of their own life, I often encourage them to take the time to clearly write out all of the options, all of the pros and cons, and to visualize each option as if they actually made the decision to pursue that option. What is the best possible outcome? What is the worst possible outcome? What are they willing to live with or accept? And what are the non-negotiables or things they are not willing to compromise?

Some people are facing serious crossroads about their jobs, relationships and friendships, or new business ventures. And although we talk about all of the options, pro's and con's, and possible outcomes we also discuss the inherent risks involved with taking the road less traveled. It is extremely important when committing to one path or the other that we carefully weigh all of the risks as well as all of the upside. It is very easy to see all the potential and amazing possibilities because that is how many of us believe we are programmed. And I strongly encourage that we take this positive attitude and approach because as we see it and believe it, we can achieve it. But we need to balance that optimistic outlook with the potential risks and downside.

This is why when we are faced with a decision point or at a crossroad that we should surround ourselves with strong friends, wise advisers and people we absolutely trust to be our sounding board and help us walk through our options and thought processes around each important decision we need to make.

Do I take more risks than I should? Yes. Are they educated risks or guesses? In most cases. Do I follow my heart, my gut, and attempt to balance that with what is going through my head? Yes. But at the end of the day, as Robert Frost says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

I would love to hear all about what you do at the crossroads of your life at gotonorton@gmail.com and I really do believe that this will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of www.candogo.com