Monday, April 8, 2013

Thoughts on Choices--Part 1 of 3

After writing yesterday I went for a run.  And, as I do on many runs, I pondered.  Sometimes my pondering leads to new haiku.  Sometimes pondering leads to reflection on other things.  In this case, it led to reflection on someone else's poetry.  In particular Robert Frost.  In thinking about my haiku on choices that challenge what others think--either about life in general or about me specifically--my mind drifted to the poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.  I realized that many of my choices could be thought of as roads not taken by others.  What was interesting was where my conclusion about this ended up yesterday morning.  The poem ends, "And that [referring to the choice of one way over another] has made all the difference."  I used to interpret that as "And that has made things so much better for me."  While the poem's tone is definitely a happy one (by my read), Frost never said, "That has made me better" or "That has made my life better."  He said simply that the choice had made all the difference.  So, my previous somewhat haughty interpretation of "And that has made me better" (and it was usually better than someone else and not even necessarily simply better than I would have otherwise been), seems at odds with the actual conclusion of the poem.  The choices I make don't necessarily make me any better than anyone else.  They do make me different.  They do provide me with a different set of opportunities.  They do provide me with a different set of chances to realize the opportunities I have.  But making different choices doesn't make me any better or any worse than anyone else necessarily.  It just makes me and my life story unique.  And realizing how much I'd like to stay away from judging and taking unnecessary pride in the difference rather than simply stating, "I took a different path to get here" when asked and otherwise leading by example is a key thing for me to remember.  The interesting thing about leadership is that leading by example remains a key part of leadership no matter how high one goes.  But leading only by example becomes more difficult as the number and magnitude of things on which one has to provide leadership and management grows.

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