Character development ...


The One Less Traveled By


You can develop your own self esteem by the attitudes you bring to the choices you make.

Steve Coerper

Steve Coerper

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thus begins and ends the famous poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.  It is sometimes interpreted as being one man’s once-for-all choice when given the opportunity to choose the direction of his life.  But I think this ignores a much more realistic and useful understanding of Frost’s sentiments.

I believe we come to this fork in the road frequently; in fact, every time there is any sort of singular event in our lives.  A person gets downsized, for instance, and they are standing where Frost stood.

Two roads.

The first has a signpost saying, “Why?” Why did this happen?  Or more importantly, why did this happen to me?  This is the road most frequently chosen, trying to figure out why God, or life, or circumstances brought this event to pass in my life.

Poor me.

The second is “What?”  What can I learn from this?  What can I take from this experience that will make me a better person?

Two paths

The first path often just goes around the block and right back into the same circumstances that created the problem.  The victim remains a victim, doomed to repeat the course until the lesson is learned.

The second is the road less traveled.  Those on this road understand that life is for learning – for growth, service, and character development.  No experience is good or bad until you make it good or bad.

We all go through Frost’s “yellow wood.”  We all have triumphs and tragedies:  promotions, flat tires, exciting times of peak performance, and times when nothing seems to go right.  What sort of person will you be when you finally come out on the other end?

A victim?  … Or a victor?

You will be one or the other.  Frost’s insight suggests that the road less travelled is the one you want to follow.


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The author is a transition and self esteem coach living in Raleigh, North-Carolina.

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