Hot Pot: The Path Less Taken
The Path Less Taken can definitely lead to an end result of ultimate success, and it is an interesting concept, but there is also great potential for the Path Less Taken to be misunderstood, or misconstrued. The Path Less Taken isn’t really a path at all… it’s hacking your way through the jungle of life, and just trying to move forward.
The first step towards the Path Less Taken is stepping away from the well-trod route that almost everyone else is walking down, taking a breath, finding a spot on high to observe, and then looking around.
Taking a breath is a metaphor for simply STOPPING what you’re doing for a brief moment, so you can get your bearings. Finding a spot on high is a metaphor for perspective. If you’re going to step off THE path, you will need perspective and a plan. Looking around is more obvious, and speaks to finding your true goal, and seeing how you can get there realistically.
I tend to look at the Path Less Taken as a true metaphor, as you can see above, so let’s walk through a couple of case studies, and see how certain successful individuals have used the Path Less Taken to meet their success.
Cooper Helfet’s Path Less Taken
Cooper Helfet just caught his first NFL touchdown pass for the Seattle Seahawks. Originally, Cooper left home on a lacrosse scholarship to Johns Hopkins in 2007. He decided that lacrosse was not the path he wanted to pursue, and left Hop to go back home to California. In CA, Cooper enrolled at Santa Rosa Community College, and played football there for two years (2008-09). After his stint at SRCC, Helfet went back to the east coast, where he played tight end for Duke’s football program. He was undrafted, but joined the Seahawks in 2012, where he got injured, waived, and re-signed. He stuck with it and entered this season as the number 3 Tight End. When the two guys above him on the chart got injured, Helfet stepping in. He has now started four games for last year’s Super Bowl Champs.
“Pro lacrosse isn’t really anything…” That could change in ten years, but still. Ouch. Moving on…
When Helfet was at Hop, it would have been easy for him to say, “I’m enrolled in a great school, I am playing D1 lacrosse, and I have a great future lined up.” But Helfet didn’t want that. He knew he wanted something else. So he dropped out of Hop, one of the best schools in the country, and enrolled at a JuCo school back home. Very few would ever take this path, and it’s somewhat bizarre, but Helfet found a way to change the path he was on by bushwacking his way from the lacrosse world back to football. He stopped, took a look around, and made a choice. He chose to take the Path Less Taken.
Rob Pannell’s Path Less Taken
Rob Pannell is another guy who took the less popular path on his way to success, but it didn’t hold him back, and Pannell shows no signs of slowing down or stopping. His story is always worth a little analysis!
Pannell didn’t get a ton of D1 looks as a high school player. He eventually decided on lower tier Quinnipiac, but before he ever enrolled there he decided to take a PG year at Deerfield, and then everything changed. He went on to Cornell after Deerfield and is currently the all-time leading scorer in D1 lacrosse. Pannell could have gone off to Quinnipiac, and probably would have seen lots of success. But his willingness to forgo D1 lacrosse for a year in order to find a better opportunity at a better academic and lacrosse school really paid off.
Lincoln Liesemeyer’s Path Less Taken
In both of the above examples, we are looking at proven D1 caliber athletes who made a jump to another school or another sport. Both guys were recruited and had other options. For a kid that doesn’t feel like he has quite as much going for him, the Path Less Taken can be terrifying. But I’m glad to say I know a young man who looked this challenge in the eye and didn’t blink. His name is Lincoln Liesemeyer and he currently plays D1 lacrosse for Furman.
Lincoln is the first D1 lacrosse to player to ever come from the state of Hawai’i. Right out of high school, Lincoln got ZERO D1 looks. He was unsure of what to do, but got some good advice from Graham Gill, a former Navy and LXM standout, and decided to take a giant leap of faith and head to Onondaga Community College in upstate New York. He made the choice to travel 7,767 miles aways from home and play at OCC. He was a two-time Academic All-American at OCC, always had a stellar GPA, and is now playing for Navy’s former coach, Richie Meade, at Furman.
Liesemeyer had good grades and scores in high school. He could have gone to Chapman or Whittier or a D2 school out West, but he wanted to play D1 lacrosse. He took the path less taken, went to OCC, killed it in the classroom, and is now living out his dream on the first D1 lacrosse team in South Carolina.
For Liesemeyer, there really was NO path. No one had done what he was trying to do before. He had to blaze his own trail, and he made it work with smart choices and extreme dedication. For those taking the Path Less Taken, he is a great example.
The Path Less Taken – Closing Thoughts
There is a very good reason that the Path Less Taken is taken less. It’s hard, and confusing, and it’s so easy to simply follow others in our world. But if you truly want something, you can pursue it, and by making your own way, you can increase your prospects. It’s not going to be easy, but if you find helpful good people along the way, it is attainable.
There are uncountable Path Less Taken stories. I’ve shared three with you. Each had its own twists and turns, and each involved taking an extra year or two of prep work. In the end, each of the above guys would undoubtedly tell you it was worth it, and they don’t regret their decisions. Looking back is easy though… the hard part is stepping onto the Path Less Taken and forging ahead until you reach your goal.