The Long Road is an apprenticeship pattern that is much more focused on the long term than some others. The situation it is designed for is essentially your entire career path. A craftsman is someone who is wholly dedicated to their craft and improving themselves in this. Someone who holds a genuine excitement and skill for the craft. Because of this, the path to becoming a true master craftsman is one that focuses wholly on the craft. So what to do you do when the opportunity presents itself to you to gain a promotion or a new job that gives you a large raise in income or something similar, but takes you away from your craft?
The Long Road posits that the best path to being a true craftsman is taking, well, the long road. There are no shortcuts, no big jumps that can lead to mastery. And moving away from this long road to being a master is something that should be avoided. This goes against conventional wisdom that most people have, to take the biggest opportunity that raises your station in life when it presents itself. But this does not improve yourself as a craftsman.
The way to do this is to slowly, but surely, build yourself up. Use the other patterns and have a genuine desire to learn and improve. It will take a long time and could be arduous, but it is the sure path to mastery. And it has no end, a life long journey of steady improvement. Such a long journey presents itself a wide variety of possibilities, which should be kept in mind as one walks the long road ahead of themselves.
This pattern definitely has the ability to be controversial for some, because it does go against conventional wisdom. When choosing whether to follow it one has to consider what they truly want in the end. I agree that the best way to being a master software craftsman is not veering off the path of being a software craftsman. But do I stick to this path that stringently? Is my ultimate goal in life to become a master? This pattern forces one to look to the future and question what their ultimate goals are, and I’m still wondering. There probably is no straight answer, as desires change throughout ones life, maybe even day to day.