My roommate James has been blogging on his travels in China. As I was reading about his visit to the Great Wall of China, I was reminded of my own trip several years ago, and realized an important lesson in life. In this post, I will attempt to connect these two topics into a coherent whole.
First, a little backstory, which begins the summer of 2009. I had just graduated from high school, and was spending the summer in China with my family. My parents decided to send me off to Beijing for a week with some family friends, and I also got the chance to meet up with my high school friend Adrian, who was staying in Beijing for the summer as well.
One of the best memories was our climb on the Great Wall of China. Unsurprisingly, there were tons of tourists clogging up the pathways, with vendors taking any other space. Rather than spending the next couple hours trying to squeeze through masses of people, we decided to take a risk.
We had spotted another pathway going the opposite direction of the general crowd, and since it seemed less crowded, we decided to take that route. What followed were a series of mind-numbingly steep steps, a long climb, and uncertainty as to what we would see once on the top.
But when we scaled those steps, something amazing was waiting for us. One of the least-crowded, most-beautiful views I’d seen out of all my travels in China. We enjoyed the scenery, explored the crumbling guard towers, and eventually hit a viewpoint that marked 888 meters – a lucky number in Chinese culture. We had made the right call.
So how does this apply to life? It’s my belief that to be truly successful in life, a person needs to take risks. But more importantly, it’s about taking the path less traveled. Let me elaborate.
There will be many instances where going with the crowd may seem the safe and logical thing to do. And if you’re smart, you’ll be able to get by. Still, you’ll be slowed down by the crowd and vendors along the way, and your overall experience won’t be nearly as enjoyable.
Taking the path less traveled means having the courage to sometimes go the opposite direction that others are headed in. Sure, getting there may be tougher – you’ll have to climb steeper steps, and there’s always the feeling of uncertainty.
But in the end, there’s the potential that what awaits on the other side will be much more rewarding than you’d ever imagined. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you’ll always succeed blazing your own trail, and you certainly shouldn’t have the mindset of going against the flow just to go against it.
It’s about risk and opportunity. If you see that opportunity, another pathway, and you believe that you can reach your goal more efficiently and effectively, then you should consider taking that risk. You just may be rewarded with the best accomplishment of your life.
Scale the Great Wall at randomtidbitsofthought.wordpress.com.