“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
That quote is one that I have heard countless times. Usually by someone trying to motivate me and tell me that it’s okay to be different. That it is okay to choose things others have not and I can somehow be successful and be my own person. It sounds very romantic. It is the stuff movies are made from. I could be the hero in my own movie and decide to follow my heart down my own path. I too can be great. Just take that the road less traveled, it will make all the difference…
The path you choose is your choice and your choice alone. It may be less traveled, but the difference it makes will be left to the opinion of the traveler. That difference might be positive or negative. I had always thought that the less traveled road was some badge of honor. I don’t have to follow the herd. I don’t have to do what others do and be defined by their definition of success.
I can embark on my own journey. I can write my own story and by doing so be the master of my own fate. You can see where the idealist would eat all this up. I’m telling you I do. I’m telling you I have. I love a good story. But the practical side of me has to take a different view. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask some questions. Questions that would bring about some thought so I can draw some actionable follow up.
What if I’m stuck in the woods?
If I needed to find a way out of the woods and my life depended on it, I wouldn’t look for the road less traveled. It’s probably not going anywhere. The well worn path most likely leads to a well traveled road. That would increase my chance of survival. I’m choosing that one.
There’s a huge debate that I am sure many people have started, continued and will talk about for some time. I first heard James Altucher make the argument in “Don’t Send Your Kids to College”. You do not have to go college. It is simply a waste of time and money.
So the college road would be a well worn path, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I would be successful.
Does it make sense to send a young adult into massive amounts of debt when they don’t yet know what they want to do?
I believe that depends on the chosen path. There are certain opportunities that require a degree, some by law.
If you were to choose to be a doctor, then it would be in your best interest to go to college and get a degree so you can obtain your license. You can align yourself with other doctors. You can follow their path. It’s a well worn path that you can follow to be successful. It won’t be easy, but you can learn from those that have gone before you.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, there isn’t a degree in the world that would give you the all the knowledge you need to succeed. There are countless opinions in books, courses, and mentors that can help you (and hurt you), but there is no prerequisite that a college degree will make you successful or happy. You can align yourself with other entrepreneurs. You can follow their path. It’s a well worn path that you can follow to be successful. It won’t be easy, but you can learn from those that have gone before you.
Is a degree anything more than a participation trophy today?
In my experience, a degree was just another hoop to jump through so I could get the job I was applying for. That can be practical depending on the position, but has never been an advantage for me. I have so many friends and acquaintances that have college degrees that have nothing to do with their current employment or even the past few jobs they have had. For others, I am sure it has been a benefit.
Is it more valuable to get real world experience (a job) before making a decision?
In the past, there used to be apprenticeships. You work for a master of a craft and learn the skills needed to be successful. You learn these skills on the job and by acquiring them through training. At Kahuna Accelerator, we train our marketing department with our own courses to set our own standard. There is not one person with a marketing degree. The people I have interviewed with marketing degrees don’t meet our standards.
Does hanging out with others just like you to gain insight about how to make money really give you the best chance to succeed?
I don’t have a degree but I did attend college for a short time. Most of my classmates were just like me… lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or be. So we all partied, all the time. If I had went straight into the workforce I probably would have saved myself a lot of time and money. The people that had purpose at that age were very rare. I didn’t know them very well. They weren’t at the parties.
So which path do I take?
I know the paths I choose now are often already traveled by others. I like to learn. I like knowing about their success, their failures and what the path might look like. This gives me the best chance to succeed. I can follow someone else’s path. It is definitely a well worn path that I can follow to be successful. It won’t be easy, but I can learn from those that have gone before me.
So I will be the hero of my own movie and I will follow my heart. I will write my own story and hopefully it will be a good one. But aren’t all good Hollywood stories just recycled anyway? I’m okay with that.