Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Management of Time....

Thursday evening, as I was driving home from the office I had a moment that all of us enjoy.  A moment that simply moved me.  And it was delivered to me courtesy of Rob.

It almost boggles my mind to think that it was five years ago this July that Rob headed off to Georgia to spend the first seventeen and one-half weeks of his career at FLETC, simply trying to do something of critical importance:  complete the Academy.  It is no easy task.  As the youngest member of his class, he immediately was charged with the responsibility of successfully navigating his way through a program so tough that a single failure - in any discipline - is grounds for dismissal.  The ultimate "single-elimination" format. 

As a father, I was concerned when he headed down there that he keep his focus solely on that which he could control.  I reduced my philosophy to him to a simple mantra, "Just win every day.  One day at a time."  Simply put, it can be counterproductive in my experience to view a challenge such as Academy training in one unit of measure, which in his case was seventeen and one-half weeks.  If one is worried about doing well over that long a period of time and is worried about doing well for the entirety of that rather extended period of time, then one runs the risk of psyching himself out.  It is easy to become overwhelmed by an undertaking of that breadth and scope. 

I merely stressed to him that success is found in reduction of the task to a more manageable unit:  a single day.  One can only live one day at a time.  The likelihood exists that today shall, by itself, present you with enough challenges and opportunities to keep you on your toes.  Focus on it.  Thus, I told him that to me his goal was not "Succeed for seventeen and one-half weeks" but rather "Win today."  Make today a success and when today is over, repeat the process tomorrow.  

It was advice that he took to heart.  I remember us - during our regular telephone conversations while he was at the Academy - constantly returning to that theme.  He mastered the art of simply accomplishing whatever challenges were placed in front of him on a particular day.  Moreover, he mastered the far more difficult art of not worrying about that over which he had no control such as tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, etc.  It makes no sense to worry about things over which we have no control.  Intuitively we know what to be true.  Emotionally, often times we find it impossible to listen to our intuition.

In the five years since Rob completed FLETC he has had a number of his friends who have been accepted into one academy or another (including FLETC) as their point of entry on their own career paths.  The pupil has become the teacher.  He has apparently repeatedly paid forward to them the advice that worked so well for him.  He has exhorted his friends to "Just win every day.  One day at a time."  They have listened.  And his advice has served them well.

Thursday evening he shared with me a text message that one friend, Chris, had forwarded to another, George, upon the latter's acceptance into the State Police Academy in his home state.  Chris shared Rob's advice with George and prefaced it by calling it, "The best Academy advice I ever received...."  Time will tell if it shall serve George as well as it did Rob and Chris.  

As I sat reading my son's text message and thought about how well he has paid forward a piece of advice he deemed valuable, I thought also of the fact that the wisdom he has been sharing with his friends is advice that shall serve them all well even far beyond Graduation Day.  It is in fact advice that benefits all of us, irrespective of who we are or the task at hand.  


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