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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

A path is reassuring: others have come this way. A well worn path is safe, many have come this way. A well worn path drawn on a map is security; this is the ‘recognised’ way to the destination.

I see career paths through this lens. To work in a profession (engineers, lawyers, doctors and so forth) is to travel a time-honoured well worn path. It is to walk on tarred roads. You pay the tolls, work your hours, start at the beginning, and walk steadily to the rewards.

In my own profession, every assessment is based on time. Have you served your training? How many years of post-qualification experience do you have? Every assessments of quality, experience and ability is mapped to  time.

In other careers, paths are uncertain; they wait to be discovered. There are a myriad of unconventional paths that start, meander and end, alongside the main way. The newer the profession, the more equalised its resources the more different the paths.

A classic example is IT, where high flexibility and a self-employed or small team ethos means that attention is paid to results than years worked. For a Google, a Twitter or a Facebook these side paths have created billion dollar companies.

Locked on a well trod pat, I keep my eyes open for untrodden side roads. In a mature profession, there are fewer of them; but the world is ever changing. Rewards flow to those who seize the half glimpsed parallel roads and risk venturing down them.

Of course there is risk: those who measure by the old rope of time, may not see this as time well spent. They may see it as time that cannot be counted towards progress down the ordained path. I accept that risk.

My hope is that by changing the game, I can circumvent the rite of years.  I hope to find nooks and crannies overlooked by those who look only narrowly down the path towards the set milestones and their designated rewards. I hope to force my development and to move at a pace equal to the opportunities, and not resign myself to the slow time-bound pace of a well trod path.

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