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The Road Less Travelled And All that Jive

January 23, 2018

Thanks for letting us share your shelter.

My pleasure. You look really familiar. Have we met?

Robert Frost wrote The Road Not Taken in 1916

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 perhpas the better claim,
Because itwas grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equallylay
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.

We were up American Fork canyon in the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah. The overnight had blessed us with about 3″ of new snow. It was a welcome sight considering we were about to shepard a couple dozen groups of boy scouts through a winter competition called the Klondike Derby.

As we had in previous years, we had secured the Whitlock pavilion as our “campsite.” What that meant was that while others pitched their tents in the snow, we set ours up on the floor of the covered dining pavilion. We were still technically “outside,” but we didn’t have to contend with the snow.

During the night, we’d picked up a couple of visitors. As I got up Saturday morning to start boiling water for hot chocolate and oatmeal, at first I thought some of my boys had climbed out of their tents. Turned out it was someone from the neighboring camp whose “burrito” sleeping method hadn’t been quite up to protection from the snow.

My name’s Mike Sharp.

Mike! Great to see you again. It’s Rodney Bliss.

Hey, how ya been? With your hood up and the headlamp, I didn’t recognize you.

Mike and I worked together 12 years ago at a company called Agile Studios. We were a software development site that mostly focused on custom websites. But, we had one big project called RESMARK that was a reservation system for the rafting industry. Eventually, we split it off and I ran RESMARK while Mike and several others stayed on at Agile.

Eventually, Mike and his partners closed Agile to launch a new company focused on business phone systems. They named their company Jive Communications.

This was Frost’s Road Not Taken. RESMARK still exists, but never really had the potential for dramatic growth. Eventually, the investors took ownership of the company and I moved on to other things. That was the road I took.

Jive Communications was named by as one of 25 current companies likely to reach a valuation of 1 billion dollars or more. That was the road not taken.

I tried to figure out how it made me feel. I have followed the rise of Jive for years. Genuinely happy for my former collegues success. And standing there in the Whitlock pavilion, I realized I was still genuinely happy for Mike’s success.

The narrator in Frost’s poem is constantly looking over his shoulder. He’s constantly longin for the greener grass in the other pasture. He’s never content with what he has. Jive Communications has over 500 employees and is expanding rapidly in my town of Pleasant Grove.

It’s easy to get caught up in looking back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence

I suddenly understood exactly what the narrator was feeling and what the author was warning us of. No. No retelling with a sigh for me. There is no telling what I would lose if I exchanged the last 12 years, some of the most painful of my life, for the daydream of getting in on the ground floor of a multimillion dollar company.

Mike, I just can’t tell you how excited I am for your guys’ success. That’s fantastic. I’m really happy for you all.

Yes, I took the other road. And it has made all the difference. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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