In Boston and many other cities in the Northeast, the streets follow the original cowpaths from colonial days. Rather than re-plan a new grid, officials simply paved over the old ones.

The problem is, cows and cattle don't tend to follow a logical, efficient path to get anywhere; they just tend to wander around on the path of least resistance. Because the roads weren't built with cars in mind, traffic is a huge problem because modern vehicles are essentially forced to drive on 17th-century cowpaths. It makes no sense.

Just like this traffic scenario, careers and companies get stuck on cowpaths too. Is yours one of them?

Are you following a set "path" because it's really the best way to get to your destination, or is it just because that's the way everyone else has been going? You'll probably still get there, but is there a better way? Or is there even a real "best path" to begin with?

This isn't a popular viewpoint; our society demands rigid adherence to one track, one consistent set of beliefs, and woe betide you if you get impatient or rock the boat. I'm going to stereotype to make a point:

Contrary to the naive, feel-good talking points filling the air, there is not one America; there are two. One America listens to Rush Limbaugh, is skeptical of government, and is morbidly terrified of anything not explicitly taught by their church (whichever one it is). The other America listens to NPR, believes that the government is the only way to achieve social justice, and considers religion to be an amusing weekend activity reserved for uncultured buffoons. And lately, they haven't been acting so friendly.

Do either of those two bubbles, or cowpaths, sound appealing to you? They don't to me, at least not in their entirety.

My point is this: Know why you believe what you believe, and know it cold. Even if one of those paths describes you, why does it describe you? Why do you know it's the best way?

Are you on a crowded, slow-moving cowpath without question or struggle? Or are you the intrepid adventurer, leaving the safety of crowds to strike forth with confidence, boldness, and fortitude?

The WSO Advantage - Land Your Dream Job

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation. Learn More.

Wall St. Interview Secrets Revealed

30,000+ sold & REAL questions. Learn More.

Find Your Mentor

Realistic Mock Interviews. Learn More.

Comments (6)


To each their own; it is what it is.

Your surroundings define who you are, and it's tough to change your view when it's all that you know.


I'm a cultured libertarian. I believe in peace, free trade and free association.

In reply to guyfromct

I'm a cultured libertarian. I believe in peace, free trade and free association.

I think that makes you the layover area in the venn diagram.

This is so true. The biggest success stories tend to be about people who did something nobody else was thinking about.

Here's my question: what if you know your values, but you don't have a strong economic view?


It doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you fall under, either side leads to the same thing: corruption, inequality, and imminent death.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer

To unlock this content for free, please login / register below.

Connecting helps us build a vibrant community. We'll never share your info without your permission. Sign up with email or if you are already a member, login here Bonus: Also get 6 free financial modeling lessons for free ($200+ value) when you register!

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

What's Your Opinion? Comment below:

Login or register to get credit (collect bananas).
All anonymous comments are unpublished until reviewed. No links or promotional material will be allowed. Most comments are published within 24 hours.
WallStreet Prep Master Financial Modeling