Follow the path
September 9, 2018
“Follow the path, Mr. Masoudi. Walk like the great men before you,” Mr. Hundert said to Louis, as he cut across the perfectly manicured lawns of an ultra-exclusive all-boys boarding school in the beautiful movie The Emperor’s Club. To Mr. Hundert, an attribute painfully depicted throughout the movie, life had a clear path to success: following the rules, living with integrity and applying oneself. He, interestingly, conveyed this message to boys whose “success,” as Mr. Hundert observed, was all but guaranteed by their families’ wealth and connections.
I thought about the movie recently as I sat in a park talking to a young man whose personal circumstances were quite different from Louis Masoudi’s. He had just enrolled in a local community college and was trying to decide whether to continue and pursue a degree in business or join the army. He had recently moved from another state and the uncertainty of his future was bothering him. As the conversation went on, I found myself telling him something slightly different from what Mr. Hundert told Louis, not because I didn’t believe in what he tried to teach the boys, but because his message was incomplete.
I told the young man life had many detours; that uncertainty is almost always a feature of life and one must learn to live with it. I told him nothing is guaranteed, things change, and despite his best efforts, things may not turn out the way he desires—he should be prepared to roll with the punches. Although many have gone ahead and cleared the brush in many parts of life’s jungle, he would still need to do some clearing himself because there isn’t a single path to follow. I told him to pay careful attention to the quiet voice within that tells each of us which sections of the jungle are ours to clear, and as he does that, he will likely find the kind of success that will satisfy him.