I want to share with you in this summary seven lessons I learned from Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Travelled.
Scott Peck opened the book with a striking statement- Life Is Difficult.
He continued that people complained and moan about their problems as if they were expecting life to be easy. That they act as though each day should be full of roses.
“Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
He continued how life comes with a series of problems and how we can solve them using discipline.
For discipline is the requirement to solving all of the life problems.” So, he said.
Book Summary OF The Road Less Travelled By M. Scott Peck
1. Problems and Pains
The author wrote…
“Most of us are not so wise. Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, … attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, hoping that they will go away. We even take drugs to assist us in ignoring them, so that by deadening ourselves to the pain we can forget the problems that cause the pain.”
But only with total discipline can we solve all human problems.
Little do we know problems are the thin line separating success from failures. You discover purpose in life as you face and solve problems, not by sitting and waiting for a divine call.
I was at a meeting when a man said, “You know whom the Lord called by the stories he has to tell”.
In my words, you know whom the Lord called by the problems he has solved and is solving. For it is problems that make us grow in all areas of life.
Until you are in a state of lack, you won’t appreciate the days of abundance.
It was after a deadly money scarcity; I experienced in a period of my life that I understood the importance of saving–financial growth.
Still, on discipline, let’s take this word from Benjamin Franklin. He quoted;
Those things that hurt, instruct.
In this part of the book, The Road Less Travelled, the author, M.Scott Peck, mentioned four means of experiencing pains constructively. They are:
- Delaying of gratification,
- Acceptance of responsibility,
- Dedication to truth, and
Here he tells the story of a lady who loves to eat cake’s frosting first before the cake itself. He then relates it to how that mind conditioning affects her work productivity.
She would spend the first hours at work doing something fun and the rest of the hours juggling around the work.
The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
Discipline is the tool we need to solve all of life’s problems. It helps us appreciate the pain of problems and how we can work through them.
As a little boy, I have always preferred finishing house chores before eating. Little did I know I was training myself to delay gratifications.
The author defines delaying gratification as a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with.
Parents should train up their children to do their homework before lunch and finish chores before cartoons.
I, Oluboba, consider discipline as the only noble way to live. As it helps us overcome our fears both spiritually and psychologically.
“He who sits to learn today will stand to teach tomorrow”.Oluboba Ayodeji
3. The Sins Of The Father
This part of The Road Less Travelled by M.Scott Peck speaks to the “Do as I say not as I do” parents.
I wonder what parents think when they instruct their children to follow a path while they follow the opposite path.
A smoking father sends his son to buy cigarettes and yet tells him (the son) not to smoke.
You blamed your son for slapping his sister. But that was the same way you slapped your wife (his mother) in his presence.
Children learn more from your day-to-day activities than any preaching you can ever give them. Be a role model to your children and you wouldn’t have to speak much.
My mentor would say, “I can tell if a cleric is genuine looking at the lifestyle and choices of his children”
His reason was, a cleric may pretend in public, but not to his wife and children at home.
Like any good thing in life, discipline takes time. We need to spend time with our children so we can study their actions and choices.
And children will grade your love for them by the quality of time you spend with them.
The more time you spend with them, the more they feel you love them. This is return helps build their self-confidence and impact on them a sense of value.
4. Accepting Responsibility
M.Scott Peck talked about how we cannot solve life’s problems by running away. We solve by solving them.
Let me tell you a story.
There is a story of a king who blocked the road leading to the market with a big log of wood. He then hid in the bush close enough to see the people passing by.
The first trader came, saw the blockage, and said, “I have always known we have a corrupt government that even town road is too much for them to repair.” He turned and went back home.
The second trader came, saw the blockage, and said, “I am not the one that put the wood there. Whosoever, that placed it here should come to remove it himself.” He also turned back and went back home.
The third trader came, saw the blockage, and said, “Truly there is a blockage, but that should not stop me from going to the market.” He rolled out the wood and continued.
On the next market day, the king rewarded the third trader for taking responsibility to make the town a better place.
When was the last time you took the responsibility for the situations in your life?
You see your savings are going low. What are you doing about it? You are not on good terms with your friend. What have you done about it?
We cannot solve a problem by hoping someone else comes to solve it for us. It is ours and we must solve it ourselves.
5. Dedication To Truth
Scott Peck said:
“…The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world, the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions.”
The other day, I was walking when I asked myself, “Why is it difficult for people to change?”. I mean, why do we resist change?
The author, M. Scott Peck answered it here when he said that lots of people are no longer interested in new information. We hold on to what we have already known because we are lazy to explore more.
If you check your life, there are some religious and traditional beliefs you have accepted as normal, even when your instinct tells you something is wrong.
We are so much afraid of thinking that we lack the power to scrutinize our limiting belief.Oluboba Ayodeji
The world feeds us with new reality at every stage of our lives. The way you see things today was not the way you saw them the last three years.
If you don’t seek to weigh these beliefs, you are doing it wrong.
- “What is it you know but are afraid of evaluating?”
- “What is it you don’t know and preventing you from moving forward?”
While it’s good to see possibilities in all things. Sometimes, accepting realities as they are is the best option. For in it you gain your liberty.Oluboba Ayodeji
6. Openness To Challenge
This chapter of the book, The Road Less Travelled, started with a striking point:
“A life of total dedication to the truth also means a life of willingness to be personally challenged. The only way that we can be certain that our map of reality is valid is to expose it to the criticism and challenge of other mapmakers.”
Jesus said (in my words), “Why don’t you first remove the stick in your eyes before criticizing the one in another man’s eyes?”
Human nature is quick to judge, but doesn’t want to be judged. We are always ready to give advice but don’t want to be advised.
I learned they encouraged psychiatrists to do psychotherapy as part of their training. This means even a therapist needs a therapy session.
We struggle to accept we are wrong, yet we can’t prove we are right.Oluboba Ayodeji
I challenged a man about the picture he took. Three weeks after, someone also challenged me about some pictures I took in an event that were not clear.
Immediately, I argued, saying it was the camera that was faulty. You see how defensive I was?
We can criticize others, but we don’t want to be criticized. May God help us to first to understand before we seek to be understood.
“Balancing is the discipline that gives us flexibility. Extraordinary flexibility is required for successful living in all spheres of activity”
From a very young age, I have always believed doing too much of everything is bad.
“The extreme of anything will bring about a curse upon oneself.”Oluboba Ayodeji
Courage is a good thing to have and a bad thing not to. I encourage you to save as much as you can. Same time, I want you to reward yourself for the work well done.
Work-Life balance is essential to a successful living.
Even God wants you to avoid extremes and have choices. If not, salvation should have been a thing of force and not a personal decision.
“Do not be overly righteous and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?” – Ecclessiastes 7 vs 16
Conclusion On The Road Less Travelled
M.Scott Peck did a good job in his book. No one could have written better on the same subject.
He mentioned things we would naturally run away from. Topics we are afraid to examine in our lives.
I like his choice of words and the use of everyday life examples. That’s what makes a talented author.
I recommend you to read this book – The Road Less Travelled