One Road is Enough

It has long been a fact that one of the biggest problems with people is finding their own particular road in life.

There are so many things any one individual can do – and do well – that he keeps running up one road, then another, and frequently trying to run up several at the same time.

A human being is, in the beginning, like a broad and shallow river flowing sluggishly toward the sea. Most of his potential energy seeps away because too much unnecessary ground is covered. Now, if you can take that individual and cut him a straight deep channel — deep, not wide — he’ll get to his destination in a fraction of the time. He’ll lose practically none of his energy along the way, wandering all over the countryside. And the power of his energy will be multiplied by hundreds, even thousands!

This is the channel every person is looking for.

With so many possible areas in which to work and build, it’s a real job, sometimes, to find the right one. Sometimes it takes many years. I know men who didn’t find the right road until they were in their sixties. Then they accomplished more in five years than they had formerly accomplished in forty.

The trick is to make the decision, give it everything you’ve got, and stay with it until one of two things happens: 1) You decide you have definitely made the right decision; or 2) That you’ve made the wrong decision. There’s no problem if it’s the first. If it’s the second, you’ve just got to try again.

But in making your decision, remind yourself that it’s better to be outstanding at one thing than to be mediocre in a dozen or so.

If you do one thing well, you can still dabble in other things as hobbies in your free time. But if you’re doing too many things and are not very successful in any of them, you won’t enjoy yourself; you won’t know any real accomplishment.

Of one thing you can be sure: in studying the lives of thousands of successful people — whether they were raising crickets, running a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, working as a salesman, accountant, attorney, or back in the shop — whatever it happened to be, these individuals had made up their minds to do their jobs as well as they possibly could. More than any other single thing, it is this attitude that invariably brings success. 

It’s caring more for the destination than for the hours involved in getting there; it’s realizing that this attitude gets rid of competition immediately, and this attitude is rarely found today.

We have, since the war, come to such a national acceptance of slipshod work, late and ineffectual service, self-interest and the to-heck-with-the-customer attitude, that the rare conscientious worker stands out like an elephant in a herd of field mice. He can be seen from afar, while the mice are lost in the grass.

Well, anyway, if you’ve been troubled by the old familiar human malady of running up too many roads and trying to run up more than one at a time, pick the one which seems to offer the most promise and which you think you’ll enjoy. Forget all the rest. And dig a deep straight highway to your goal in life.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly it can be reached (and the time will pass anyway).

If you would reach a lot of places during your life, don’t make the mistake of trying to reach more than one at a time. There’s time enough for all of them — almost all.

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