“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost
We are left with choices throughout our lives – some are easy, others are difficult. Often, we align ourselves with others, we choose to follow where everyone else has been. After all, we are social creatures. We are hardwired to stay in tribes, we are made to fear exclusion. However, in today’s time, leaving the tribe – doing the things no one else will or has thought to do – is the only way to find extreme wealth and success. We are in an age were we have to go against our most fundamental instincts, and in doing so, we are greatly rewarded.
Take Microsoft, the most successful company of the last few decades. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, Microsoft is the perfect example of doing what others won’t or haven’t thought of. Windows is one of the most widely accepted and unique technologies we have today. If you look back at how it started, Bill Gates was simply trying to make computers easy to use and accessible. He never imagined that over 40 years later, it would be the dominating force in computer technology. Bill Gates had to think outside the box. He had to do what no one else was doing or was willing to do, and you can see how well it paid off for him today.
Simply put, following social norms and going about life as if there is nothing more to discover or accomplish will not create wild success. In order to create a successful product, it has to be unique. Otherwise, you simply have to do everything WAY better than your competition.
For this example, take Google. The idea of a search engine was long in the public eye. In fact, Yahoo! and Bing had already been around for a while. However, Google made the search engine what it is today. Before, it was simply type in what you want to find and pray a website came up that held the content you desired. But today, you can find videos, photos, GPS routes, news, and books, all at the click of a single button. Google made a good service a million times better, and it paid off big time. But, Google still had to reinvent what a search engine was in order to accomplish it.
Everyone is left with choices throughout their lives. It is up to them to define what we desire. Often times, the route they need to take is scary. It’s scary because few people have decided to take it. It’s scary because often times, the trail is so overgrown that it becomes difficult to find where exactly it leads. But it is through this path – The Path Less Traveled – that we find true success.
This post was inspired in part by Zero to One by Peter Theil. Peter was one of the founders of PayPal and Palantir. This book speaks about the successes of modern startups, why they succeed, why they fail, and how you can create one. It was a true eye opener for me, and helped to start thinking of new ideas. I hope it can do the same for you.
Live Intentionally: A 90 day Self-Project
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