'The road less traveled' is a phrase popularised by M.Scott Peck with the book of that title about the journey to maturity and growth
that lies through confronting life's difficulties and moving through
the hard and often painful process of change toward a higher
level of self-understanding.
The first step to the long game and the acceptance of delayed gratification is the most difficult and negative.
long game is so hard to play because it involves taking a series of very
small steps, that people rarely see, persistently and consistently over
a long period of time to reach an enormous and visible outcome.
first question you need to think about is when and where to play the long-term
A good choice to play the long game is with things that really matter to you and things that compound such as: knowledge,
relationships, and finances.
To do this requires you to ask yourself some very hard questions and to consider the second-order consequences of your decisions - and the key question you will be asking is: "...and then what?"
started working in the fuel business about 8 years ago - bringing
refineries and resellers of refined fuel products [such as Aviation Jet
Fuel and industrial use Diesel] together with qualified proceedable
buyers. This is a tough business with many fraudsters and time-wasters.
Using some of my
experiences over the past 8 years in this job here are a number of key
issues that typically you will face on the road less traveled to delayed
gratification and some approaches that I have used for dealing with them.
can you figure out some useful metrics to know how you are doing on the road less traveled?
- Get some "pegs in the ground" as soon as possible.
- Establish the hard facts of the situation and the environment you are working in.
- You do this by close observation and attentive listening to what people say.
- Every "fact" has to be verified before it can be regarded as a "hard fact" and before it becomes one of your pegs in the ground.
- Always remember that just because someone you know and trust tells you that something is so, doesn't make it so, it simply means that they genuinely believe it to be so.
- Never be over-awed or impressed by someone else's success, wealth, prestige and power. [I have known and worked with some incredibly successful and wealthy people and they have on many occasions proved to know a lot less than they say they do].
- Never rely on someone else's assessment of a person's worth [in terms of the value they can add to your knowledge] without corroboration from your own direct experience.
- Never rely on a person's own assessment of their worth without corroboration from your own direct experience.
- It is also worth assuming that most, if not all, of the people you talk to will be subject to all the usual cognitive biases and distortions and will unlikely to exercise good thinking skills.
- So in summary, in relation to listening to other people - yes talk with them ask endless questions and listen to them but always remember it is a useful approach to assume that most people don't know what they don't know, and more importantly, they don't know that they don't know.
- Pay very good attention to anyone who demonstrates to you that they know the boundaries of their circle of competence.
- Develop a memory like an elephant.
- Triangulate and apply the duck test
- Be like a good detective and cross reference everything.
- As you slowly find and bang your "pegs in the ground" [and this is a continuous process] you will build a solid and immutable body of knowledge that enables you to figure out the necessary metrics for establishing where you are and where you are heading.
do you keep going when the going is tough and you are not sure if you are
wasting your time on the road less traveled?
- This very much depends on the stage you are at.
- If you are relatively new to your enterprise or endeavour, the usual advice is press on. However, if you realise very early on
that you made a serious error of judgement getting into this, then in this instance it is a
very good idea to bail out quickly before you do yourself [and the other
parties involved] serious harm.
- If you have been doing this for sometime and you are experiencing yet another major set back or let down then it is a sensible thing to undertake a quick review of your situation. Ultimately it all boils down to opportunity cost.
- A decision to quit based on how you feel in the present moment is most probably the wrong decision.
best approach to knowing when to quit is to have a predetermined set
of "quitting criteria" which sets out certain key limits and boundaries
beyond which you are not prepared to go.
- This involves some important thinking skills and I recommend that you refer to and read the linked article Knowing When To Quit.
- Over the long haul it is a good and sensible thing to periodically revisit your decision on "when to quit" as this will ensure that you remain focused and it will enable you to renew your commitment to the long game.
do you determine the green shoots of progress/recovery from the false dawn of
- Short answer is you can't.
- You will never know until you get there.
- In the early weeks, months and years of your endeavour you will find that you quite understandably and naturally develop a strong attachment to a successful result.
- As the years go by and you have several spins around the emotional and psychological roller-coaster you learn to manage your emotions and weaken your attachment to results. You have to, otherwise it will destroy you.
- Learning how to embrace failure and uncertainty are necessary skills - not just for survival but - because they are an intrinsic part of the process of getting to your ultimate major success.
- You need to develop the quality of antifragility - that is, the quality of something that gets
better, or thrives, in the presence of disorder.
do you separate and differentiate yourself from the herd?
do you cope with the necessary personal and business dependencies on other
people on the road less traveled?
- Short answer - with difficulty!
- Personal dependencies on partners/spouses can be difficult - especially if the other person does not understand or fully support what you are doing
- This can be manageable if you are not in anyway dependent on their financial support, but frankly if you are receiving any degree of financial support from a partner it is essential that they buy-in to what you are doing, and are 100% supportive.
- In my experience it is worth investing the time and effort to ensure that your partner is kept broadly aware of what you are doing. Think of this in terms of expectation management.
- Business dependencies on other people need to be grounded in good
communications, good relationships, and controlling your emotions and not burning
- You really cannot
truly know someone’s strengths and weaknesses until you have been in action
with them for a long time i.e. 12 months+
- Knowledge is
subordinate to results.
warning signals of “talk-walk” gap.
- Look for early signs
of those who “punch above their weight”.
- Be wary of people
who are distrusting and overly protective of disclosure – they are often hiding
something and/or untrustworthy.
- Ambition in a business
partner is a good thing but identify early warning signals of people who: “don’t
know what they don’t know, and don’t know that they don’t know”.
Maintaining Your Mental Health And Well-Being On The Road Less Traveled
# How do you cope when everyone else thinks you’re mad or deluded?
- It's very hard is the honest answer and it is part of the price I have learned to pay for doing something different and what I believe will be extraordinary when it is complete. So I have learned not to be dissuaded by what other people think.
- I learnt fairly early on in my journey on the road less traveled that almost everyone I knew outside of my immediate family and a very few close friends would never understand what I am doing both in terms of the actual business itself but also the long game aspect of it.
- I very rarely talk about what I do except to those very close to me. I basically lead a double life. There is the face I present to the outside world with a scaled down, simplified and modified version of what I really do, and then there is the face I present to those who operate in my business world.
- I do have a few "friends" who have basically told me I am crazy and who have either challenged me and/or laughed and sneered at me. It's amazing how badly people can behave. I have just learned to shrug them off and carry on. Its their problem not mine.
# How do you cope with recurring disappointments and let downs?
- Short answer - you get used to it and learn to live with it.
- As stated in earlier answers I have learned to embrace failure and uncertainty.
- I also think you need to develop the qualities of antifragility as I said in that article: "...it allows us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them - and do them well..."
# How do you sustain yourself over the long term when it takes 10 to 20 years to succeed?
- I just keep on keeping on knowing that I am playing a long game. I monitor the metrics so I know where I am and how I am doing. I just keep my head down and carry on one step at a time, one day at a time.
- I understand and apply many of the principles outlined in this website on mental models and productive thinking
- I also have a deep seated belief and confidence in myself, my life purpose and what I am doing.
- This is who I am. This is what I do. How could it possibly be any other way?
# How do you stay healthy, positive and sane?
- I take care of my mind and body in all the usual ways. I exercise moderately and daily.
- I practise mindfulness and what I call the balanced toolkit approach to life.
- I take great pleasure in the simple joys of life.
Dealing With Other People On The Road Less Traveled
# How much do you tell other people about what you doing?
- Short answer - very little!
- I keep it on the "need to know" basis and generally, the less they know the better.
do you cope with other people’s inability to understand what you are
telling them about what you are doing?
- I have learned not to tell them. I just don't talk about my business.
- If asked in social settings I have several simple answers that are grounded in the truth but sufficiently boring to encourage people to change the subject.
# How do you cope with other people’s recurring disappointment and negativity at your lack of progress?
- Most other people don't know what I do and I don't talk about it so this doesn't arise very often.
- With those few non-family members who do know, I just tell them how it is, or sometimes I just avoid them.
# How do you cope when other people are doing well and you’re not?
- This can be hard but I just focus on what I am doing.
- Comparisons are largely meaningless.
- Nobody truly knows the inside track on someone else's life.
- I also know that I am playing the long game and the rewards are enormous and deservedly so.
# How do you cope with the feeling of letting your family and those close to you down?
- In my darker moments this has been crushing.
- Personally I have been blessed with a very supportive family.
- I don't dwell on negative feelings and I always return to the task in hand and keep on keeping on.
- The long game is a tough game but ultimately an enormously rewarding game.
The Road Less Traveled - Further Resources
Here are a number of touch points with other key articles on this site:
If You Don't Take Care Of You, Who Will?
to: Mental Models
Or to: Walking The Talk