The Tunnel Not Taken

Have you ever been so focused on fulfilling a task you actually miss or ignore anything else around you? Even if evidence show you on the wrong path? I have seen many times people get into this place. The usual cause for getting there is one of two common types

  • A senior, experienced person that is used to tutor others, but when doing the same task themselves they fail due to hubris or tunnel vision
  • A junior trying to debug an issue and decides what is the issue before nailing down the root cause. Usually avoiding evidence pointing at other root cause due to tunnel vision and lack of experience.
Fairytale tree tunnel by jacco55, All rights reserved

Fairytale tree tunnel by jacco55, All rights reserved

When getting into the scenario of a task or an issue that needs full attention, it is very dangerous to get into tunnel vision mode.

Robert Frost to the rescue

Robert Frost wrote a very famous poem called The Road Not Taken in 1915.

The poem is so pretty I will share it in its full glory:

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.

The poem gives us a hint on how we can get out of the tunnel vision. We should always keep in the back of our minds the road not taken. There is another path we did not take!

Remembering this critical piece of information can save hours of frustration and can lead to useful questions along the road taken, questioning did we take the right path? Can we explore the other one? Possibly a less traveled one?

Safe travels.