Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Steve The All Knowing Cabby

     Let me begin with this: this week, has not been my week. It is not that anything bad has happened exactly, I was just faced with a singular difficult decision, on top of building stressors, and I broke. When I break, I feel such endless despair. Not that anything wont be right again, it's just that I can't do anything to further the process to making things better. Everything makes me cry, and I feel like there are at least three dementors hovering around my head, constantly sucking my happiness. It becomes too easy for my inner voice to become lashing, and point out all of my faults and shortcomings, furthering my spiral into misery. In short, it has not been my week.
     In a crazy turn of events, I found myself packing a suitcase and taking off for a place that had never given me much happiness, but is full of people who do: home. Right now that isn't important, what is, is what I learned from Steve.
    Steve, is my worldly cabby driver from Greece who drove me to the airport this evening. He is a fun, kooky-looking, old man who maintained a constant stream of chatter the whole drive over, which I greatly appreciated. Beginning the conversation, was talk about the most obvious: School. He then dove into, what I assume, was a well rehearsed schpeal about how important school is. The difference being one million dollars. He said that over my lifetime as a college graduate I will make a million more dollars than a non-grad. Alright, I've heard it before.
     He then dove into a narration about a fellow he drove to the airport fifteen years ago, whom he ran into recently and was reminded of. Evidently, this fellow needed a ride to the airport from school, as did I, and Steve told him what he told me tonight, and the fellow listened, worked, graduated, and now owns two law firms and is extremely successful. When he ran into Steve, he reminded him who he was, and how Steve's advice to push through and graduate helped him to go pursue his dreams. Steve said that no, this fellow did is of his own accord, all that Steve did, was show him that a door could be opened, it was the fellow who opened it, and went through to the other side.  Door metaphor, heard it, but it was especially well done by Steve. What he then imparted on me next, is more of what is important.
     Perhaps I just looked troubled, but he told me about this saying that is popular amongst the Greek (according to Steve). That phrase being, "it is better to sleep worry, than to sleep sorry" it doesn't quite rhyme in my American accent, but in his Greek one, it has a perfect rhythm. This means, that when making a decision, there is no need to rush; you must slow down, think it over, and come to a decision thoughtfully, no matter how simple the question. He said the Greeks thought it was better to fall asleep worrying about what do to about a decision, than to fall asleep sorry you made the wrong one. Well, let me tell you, that is exactly what I needed to hear. Steve, you are the all knowing cabby, and I hope that one day I do meet you again so I can tell you successful I have become, and how much I needed to hear that.

Monday, April 15, 2013

...But Is It Worth The Effort?


    I fondly remember a day in my high school economics class where the teacher asked us a rather simple question: Is it worth it to put 100% of your effort in, all of the time? Of course we were supposed to look at this through an economists eyes, nothing is free, your time costs you something, and on... We thought unanimous answer was yes, and as we walked to the designated side of the room for "yes" we turned around to see that one student had firmly plopped himself down on the side of "no." The debate that ensued is one I continually go over in my head as I try to apply the principle to my everyday life.
   On the "yes" side, was myself, several of our would-be valedictorians, salutatorians, the winner of the county's student of the year award, and a general slew of high-achievers and bright minds. Not to say the singular "no" crusader was not amongst this crowd, in fact he was extremely bright, but did he know something all of us didn't? I think for the majority of us, being told putting 100% effort in, all of the time was folly and a waste of our time and energy, was rather upsetting. As the debate opened, a wave of reasons the "yes" side was correct came crashing down upon the singular "no" defender. The yeses argued that giving 100 percent of your effort enables you to always succeed, because you will continually push to understand what you are learning or working on, and then you can't ever feel like there was more you can do, because you gave it your all, and on and on. 100 percent effort means good, successful results, every time. That is how all of us had gotten through school, and for the majority of us it worked out very well. Now for defense of the no. Mr. No, argued that it is not efficient to give 100 percent all of the time, and it is not sustainable. He argued that it isn't worth our time to put 100 percent effort in, lets say a paper, when 70 or 80 percent effort will get the job satisfactorily done (for us, some shade of "A"). If you can get away with putting less effort in, and still get the same results as 100 percent, isn't it more efficient? Wouldn't that save you time, and the energy you must exert in order to focus in on that task one hundred percent? This internal dialogue has plagued me since its occurrence, and I think I have finally found a response that is realistic, and I have found useful in my everyday living.
     I have decided it really isn't worth it to put 100 percent of my effort into everything I must do (Mr. No would be proud.) Some things just aren't worth it, as I have been finding out in a certain class I am currently enrolled for. This class, is interesting in subject matter but the teacher is quite bad at delivering her lectures. Until right before the first test, I attended all of her lectures, took notes, did the homework, and when the test came about, I scored slightly higher than the class average, but quite low for my standards. Clearly, traditional methods were not to be trusted in this instance, so I stopped going to class. Instead, I continued doing the assigned readings at home, doing the homework, and only attended the test review a few days before the test (done by the TA) and I scored a 95 on the next test. In this scenario, my effort was not to be clocked at 100 percent, I wasn't even going to class for goodness sakes, but the results were far more impressive this way. This made me realize that being smart with my efforts and not blindingly giving them to all projects, is more worthwhile. In both scenarios I did give the same amount of effort, but in such a way that it was more valuable to the task at hand, which worked out better for me in the end.
     When I now approach a task, the question of "is it worth my best?" no longer floats around in my brain. Instead, I think to myself, "is this the best method to maximize my efforts?" And see what my brain can come up with from there.

Currently Listening To: Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling