Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Bridge Between Goals and Accomplishments: A Tale of Two Homies

Somewhere between the first Iraq War in 1991 and the current debacle, I toyed with the idea of joining the military. Not for scholarships or adventure, nor an ill attempt at GI Jeannette. But for all the aspects most veterans detest--the 4 am drills, the grueling tasks of basic training, and the ability to say I’d done more before 9 am than most people do all day.

While I no longer have a desire to enlist, my fascination with discipline and those who’ve got it on lock is very much intact. Discipline equals efficiency. A disciplined person possesses a self-regulating mechanism that propels him or her to perform at optimal levels. These are the people who chair four committees at the church, volunteer on the weekends, work overtime, get there early, stay late, send the follow-up email, eat right, do Pilates, and have great hair.

To me, these attributes are like the moon…awe-inspiring and out of reach.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”

-Jim Rohn

My good friend Jeannine is one of the most disciplined people I know. We started college the same time and she finished two years before I did. Jeannine enrolled at Howard University in 2005 and recently earned her masters degree. She is currently pursuing her PhD. in neuropsychology.

Jeannine’s schedule is focused to the half hour. She rises no later than 7:30 am any day of the week, and is up at least three times a week before 5:30 am. She’s frequents the gym at least four times a week, works part time, attends church regularly, and studies profusely.

There’s some people that do it all in a way that’s “holier than thou.” Jeannine was never like that. Her drive is not of the corny, overachiever, “sididdy” sort. She’s the kind to stop by the party, leave after a couple hours, and not scoff at the rest of us for keeping it going until sunrise.

We often joke about residing on opposite ends of the continuum---her dogged tenacity, my carefree capriciousness. Yet I crave the willingness to jump up at the butt crack of dawn and grind vigorously towards my goals without the distractions of a daydream, or a nap, or an intriguing New York Times article, or a fine brother at the gas station, or emails, or foolishness on YouTube, or text messages, or a poem on my heart, or a night on the town, or in the lounge, or a dinner date, or a lunch date, or anything remotely captivating.

If I had Jeannine’s brand of fortitude, I honestly believe my life would be different. I’d be happier, I’d get things done, I wouldn’t procrastinate. Shoot, I’d probably be rich.

But my girl declares that while the grass is certainly tidier on her side of the fence, it’s definitely not greener. “I like my life but I don’t like my life,” she said. “I get very depressed. Very.”

Jeannine went on to explain that the trait that I admire so much in her is a gift and a curse. She enjoys being dependable, but the regimen can often be monotonous and lonely. “It’s a vicious cycle. I’m expected to be this way because I’ve built a reputation on being this way.”

[Delect Inject: Ay, there’s worse things to build a reputation on, but whatever…]

We’re both poster children for our astrological signs: Jeannine’s a Capricorn, known for pragmatism and ambition. I’m a Libra, known for being chill and charming. Surprisingly, as much as I want to be like her, Jeannine wants to be like me. “I wish I could be more laid back,” she said. Ehhh…be careful what you wish for, homegirl; my grass isn’t greener either. It’s overgrown with weeds and strewn with Corona bottles.

I discovered from interviewing Jeannine that while we’re total opposites in regards to discipline, we have the same issues dealing with our notorious characteristics. Jeannine mentioned that she is social but introverted, meaning she relishes in company, but doesn’t require it all the time. I too, am gregarious and sociable, but value solitude.

It’s about balance. Too much discipline garners stress, depression, and anxiety. Too little discipline equals less productivity, ultimately leading to regret doused with “shoulda, couldas.”

When it comes to me and my homegirl, it would do both of us some good to exchange doses of each other’s crowning attributes.


Anonymous said...

I've found that the key to my success in most endeavors depends upon how efficient I am with my time. I've noticed that the ppl who are good at what they do, whether it be a teacher, a janitor, a Dr., a lawyer, a cop, etc. manage their time wisely.

If I manage my time wisely, I am more effective in all that I do. If I don't, I find myself always trying to play "catch up", tired, etc. I place a high value on my time. I feel it's my most valuable resource. We'll use the 3 min it takes me to respond to this column. That's a time spell that I can not get back, period. However, it's a relaxing break from the work that I was doing. Now, I will be disciplined and get back to my work.

Peace, Luv & DMB.

~Dee Man

Delect said...

Well time management is easier said than done. Some people just seem to be more naturally adept to being good at it.

But yes, time is an irreplaceable resource and we need to truly value it. It's like, while I look forward to the weekend, I usually don't frown at Mondays, Tuesdays, etc, because those are precious gifts too. You can't live for the weekend. After all, there's more weekdays than weekends so might as well not wake up Monday and groan. That's total disrespect to God, who woke you up that morning, and blessed you with the job you're griping about going to.

Got off on a tangent there...