A Fork In The Road

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and his blog. He has a unique ability to condense a topic down into a succinct statement that is specific, yet written in a way that many people can apply it to their version of life. Its far from easy to do this well and regularly.

But today’s post missed a bit: The fork in the road.┬áHe is right on the premise that many folks and businesses don’t see the fork or take it.

But, as forks in the road go, they’re not optional. When you come upon it, you have to make a decision. There is no third option, unless you count running off the road.

The problem is more, that folks don’t anticipate the fork in the road until they have it right in front of them. And when they get there, they have to decide in an instant which one to take. And more than often, that means taking the default option, the one that falls within the comfort zone, the one you can take if you don’t have enough data to make an informed decision. That translates into a missed opportunity. And it’s not a lack of guts, because a gutsy move is knowingly taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone, not unknowingly stumbling along.

There is a saying that Luck really is when Opportunity meets Preparedness. I think that is a better way of looking at this. You want to be prepared to hit upon a fork in the road, so when you get there, you have the opportunity to take either one, and do so in an informed manner.

But as preparedness goes, it takes effort to accumulate information ahead of time, to consider and analyze possible scenarios, and to acquire skills that enable you to succeed taking either path at the fork in the road. Be prepared for either a treacherous mountain pass, or a six-lane highway in a busy metropolitan area.

In life being prepared for these forks means knowing the state of affairs of the industry you work in, the economy and the politics in the area you live in, the issues facing all the major elements of your life choices, and investing into backup plans and alternatives, whether that is having financial buffers, professional networks, or acquiring skills that enable you to do a career change if needed.

Interestingly enough, for drivers, forks in the road have become much less of an issue in the age of GPSs. Most of the time we allow a well informed GPS to tell us which side of the fork to take, because the GPS can look at the bigger picture better than we can by having real-time information and lots of data at hand. Of course that also has made us lazier drivers, because we have handed over the responsibility for being able to make a decision to someone else. As evidenced by people occasionally driving into a lake because the GPS told them so.

But the same technological advances have also given us the Internet, and more information than we ever were able to put our fingers on in real time and at minimal cost. So there really is no excuse nowadays for not being informed and doing your home work to be prepared for the next fork in the road. Now it really comes down to the choice of bobbing in the wind of life, or taking charge of our life. It’s an exciting time to live in!

Update: After reading this, Seth did point out, that most people do in fact run off the road.

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