“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost in The Road Not Taken
I work on the seventh floor of an eight-story office building that houses several hundred team members, maybe over a thousand. Around the start and end of the work day, the area in front of our four elevators is, as you might imagine, fairly crowded. Occasionally out of impatience (and honestly my internal aversion to crowds) I’ll take the stairs. And especially lately, in a move toward being more fit, I’ve begun using the stairs several times a day.
There’s something noteworthy I have observed in those trips: the stairs are never crowded.
And self-improvement in general is very much the same way. The path to growing ourselves and being intentional with priorities and choices is never crowded.
Leading a financially responsible life, where we build for our future and our children’s future, where we avoid debt and give generously, is not something all our neighbors are doing. The gym may be more crowded right after the first of the year, but by June there are usually open spots on most of the workout equipment. Books on personal development and intentional living will never outsell the hot fiction books.
No, the path to the best life is never going to be elbow-to-elbow. The stairs from the lobby to the seventh floor will not be packed. It’s a tough choice, the body may dread the climb, it takes longer to get there. But then, the most successful people didn’t get there all-at-once. Dave Ramsey says, “after 20+ years, I was suddenly an overnight success.”
It’s tough on the body, step after step. Going from the basement level to that seventh floor is no piece of cake. And when I get there, chances are I’ll feel winded.
But not for long. And what follows, for me anyway, is that good feeling of accomplishment, of a small, incremental victory. And as time passes, as I make that choice more frequently, my body begins to adjust, becomes accustomed to the discomfort, so that what used to be challenging eventually becomes more routine.
So it is with growth – we become accustomed to the uncomfortable, and the challenges that follow, which would have seemed unlikely before, are now reachable, achievable.
Those who win don’t choose the path of least resistance; they choose the path of least attendance. Not for moral superiority or one-upsmanship, but for the result. To be one step better, one day better, one workout better, one paycheck better.
When it comes to getting to our desk, taking the elevator doesn’t really affect our job or advancement. But in terms of personal growth, there is no elevator to the top floors. But there’s no crowd in the stairwell either.