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The Path of Innovation and A Great Poem

Posted by Thomas Edwards on November 15, 2020 5:00 PM EST
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Admitting upfront that I am not an expert in American poety, and am a fan of only a few great works of poetry....

...so it will not surprise anyone that with this limited span of knowledge there are equal limits to application of a famous poem to another complex subject-paths to innovation.

So it is with some trepidation that I try to draw a significant and applicable lesson of one of America's greatest poets' greatest and most popular poem.  And with some humility and reverence, I reprint below the famous passage "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost after trying to connect its meaning to the most fundamental act in innovation-taking the step down the innovation path.

While acknowledging that I am not expert in American or any kind of poetry and that applying meaning to such works or artistry is daunting, I must admit that I am a fan of Robert Frost's work and most specially the afore-mentioned poem he wrote and published in 1915, well before signficant disruptions, two world wars, the Great Depression and countless acts of innovation.  Yet the message of the poet rings clear for each person to interpret and apply to more difficult topics than choosing which path to take in the woods on a autumn day.  Even a light-weight like me can draw meaning and try to apply that meaning to another topic, in this case innovation.

To me, what has always drawn me to the poem is the idea that in life, in all aspects of like, making choices of different paths to follow is a never-ending constant.  Yet on some occasions and for some "journeys" choosing the right path, especially the path not taken often by others, infers many other paths along the way.  And that choosing the path of going toward innovation, bold innovation at that, requires a sense of courage and willingness that there could be danger and high risk associated with the path less taken.  Yet, in the end, while that path has many sub-paths within it, the journey forward may be the most exciting and important of all choices one will make to create, implement and sustain innovations that work.  And in doing that, one may look back much later with great satisfaction and the realization that having taken that path to go forward in a bold direction many have chosen not to take, will allow you to say, "I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference".

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost - 1874-1963

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



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