What Will You Do When You Run Out of Road?

The road might not take you where you want to go.

Isaac Newton famously credited those who had gone before him with laying the foundation for his success. “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

You were left a legacy by your parents, and their parents, and society as a whole. You’re now building upon that legacy to leave something better to your children.

There are books that tell us how the world works, maps that shows us how the pieces fit together, and roads that will take us most places we want to go.

Those tools will get you pretty far in life, and if you do nothing but pass them on to your kids, they’ll have a pretty good life, too. But if you want to really make a difference in the world, there is one question you need to answer long before it ever comes up:

What will I do when I run out of road?

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Gajus

We all want to make the world a better place, in one way or another. It’s one of our innate human needs. Once we have the basics—things like Survival and Safety—out of the way, we start thinking of the legacy we’re going to leave.

I grew up in southwestern Wyoming, near the Oregon Trail, the Overland Trail, the Emigrant Trail, the Cherokee Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail, the Outlaw Trail, the Pony Express, the first transcontinental telegraph line, the Transcontinental Railroad, the Lincoln Highway, US Route 30, and Interstate 80. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those early explorers, pioneers, and settlers and what they went through to leave a legacy.

They left behind Society and Safety and fought to Survive. They left behind all the roads that others had built so they could build new ones.

At some point, you’ll reach the end of the road. The point to which others have travelled, but no further. No more highway, no more dirt road. No more GPS signal. It’s just you, a compass, and the open wilderness before you.

What will you do when you run out of road?

Will you turn back?

Or will you boldy go where none have gone before? Do what no one else has done? Be who no one else has been?

Some are afraid to leave the road behind. ”Nobody else does it this way.” I know. “It’s never been done.” Not yet. “We don’t know what’s out there.” I’ll send you a postcard.

Every book has an author. Every map has a cartographer. Every road starts out as a trail that one man walked.

Question: What will you do when you run out of road? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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